In Memory Of WB Yeats And September 1st, 1939

1120 Words 5 Pages
There exists a continuous cycle of manipulation and domination within the relationship between the people and their representative governments, as one continuously changes the other to suit their needs and desires. Composers also contribute to the cycle of suppression through manipulation of language and linguistic devices to exemplify their views. Such ideas are closely explored in WH Auden’s poems, “In Memory of WB Yeats’ (1939) and ‘September 1st 1939’ (1939), as well as the short, animated film ‘I Met the Walrus’ (2007) directed by Jerry Levitan. Through the reflection of the manipulative potential of the government their people, the three texts strengthens the mutual bond within the cycle of manipulation.

The citizens hold the potential
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Auden, through his poem, “September 1st, 1939”, explores the apathetical psychology of the United States towards World War II, following the bombing of the Polish town. United States’ “neutral air... [and] blind skyscraper” are the symbols of the States’ attitude towards the war, where, despite their power and global influence, which are at “full height”, they remain “blind” and “neutral” in their stance in warfare. The verbal irony signified through the personification highlights the provocative tone, emphasising Auden’s criticism towards the inhumane response of US towards the sufferings of the European allies, thus evoking guilt and empathy within the audience. Such isolative attitude is further highlighted as Auden describes how the US citizens “Cling to their average day” and how they think “the light must never go out [and] the music must always play”. The repetition of “must” exemplifies the citizens’ desperation, as they create a false façade, and an illusion of safety despite them knowing otherwise. The blunt description of their perception again evokes shame and guilt within the audience, with Auden challenging the audience to take a more proud and supportive stance for the US to aid the war in Europe, rather than hide in their own illusions. Auden thereby delivers his perception on democratic power and humane stance amongst warfare, which …show more content…
Levitan emphasises the impact that citizens have on the government, as he states that “We [were the ones who] put [the government] there… We allow[ed] it, and we can change it”, the cynical tone accompanied by the fast paced cartoon transition accentuates the influence of the people on their respective politics. The image of the TV-man changing his channels symbolise the audiences changing their own perceptions, which, Levitan argues, will bring meaningful reformation in the oppressive politics. Along with the fact that it is the citizens who can change the government, the idea that, “we are all Hitler… [and] Christ inside” further accentuates the importance of shift in perception needed to catalyse the reformation. The juxtaposition between Hitler and Christ emphasises Levitan’s representation of individual’s potential to become saints or Machiavelli within society. Levitan brings a revelation of the importance of the citizen’s role in bringing necessary transitions, and hence successfully encourages the audiences to take a brave stance and actively strive for a change. Levitan thereby effectively persuades the audience to embody his vision of a peaceful future, thus showcasing the capacity of composers to manipulate the audience to

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