The Unknown Citizen

Posted: August 12th, 2013




The Unknown Citizen by W. H. Auden

This is a poem about an average citizen the United States, who follows all the rules of the country without questioning his government. It was written during the Second World War where people were drafted to go defend their country in the quest for freedom. It was inspired by a soldier who died in the war. The soldier was used to describe how a model citizen should be especially during a time of war when a country needs its citizens to step up. It is an ideal example of how the government envisions how the perfect man should be like though it is in an unrealistic society.

The citizen is not viewed as free as even in a modern world he is still being controlled by the society and the government. This is the view of the government in how an ideal citizen should be like. The citizen is not allowed to do the things he wants but rather do what is required of him. He goes to work everyday without fail (line 7), he pays his taxes and insurance revenue on time (line 10). All he does is to please other people and not himself. When his country calls upon him to go to war on its behalf, he diligently does it without questioning.

These are clear indications that the citizen is not free. The speaker in the poem voices out the ideals of the government. The government only wants a citizen that will do as they are told without considering if it is good for them. The citizen is therefore tied down by the ideals of the world and is not at liberty to defy them.

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