Essay on The Unknown Citizen Explication

975 Words Mar 12th, 2012 4 Pages
Alek Haugen
Advanced Placement English 12
Dr. Werner
05 March 2012
The Unknown Citizen
By W. H. Auden

Several conflicts are dramatized in The Unknown Citizen, the most prominent being: conformity of the middle class, government manipulation, and the loss of individualism to the standards of an average citizen. The speaker of this poem is non-traditional as the poem is, in fact, an inscription on a “marble monument erected by the State.” The inscription is dedicated to a “JS/07 M 378”—presumably, “The Unknown Citizen,” although this term only appears in the title. The Unknown Citizen is essentially an elegy, a lament for the dead, written by either a government official or a strong believer in the government. This becomes clear
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This 1930s theme continues in two particular allusions. In line eight, it is written that the citizen was employed by “Fudge Motors, Inc.” which closely resembles the automobile giant of both then and now, Ford Motors, Inc., but is, through “fudge,” slightly more appealing. Next, in line 18, are mentions of the groups “Producers Research” and “High-Grade Living” which are likely allusions to Consumer Reports and Good Housekeeping, respectively. Both U.S. publications are tokens of a middle class, “perfect” society. The Unknown Citizen consists of both patterned meter and rhyme, however, both are inconsistent. The meter is loosely anapestic, meaning that each metrical foot consists of two unstressed beats followed by a stressed beat. Line one is an example of such: “He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be.” Other anapestic lines are scattered throughout the poem. The rhyme scheme begins as ABAB and then, in line 9, proceeds for some time in rhyming couplets. These patterns are occasionally broken, however. Consistent or not, this rhyme does create a sort of melodious sound while reading. Some lines even resemble the simplistic and song-like style of nursery rhymes. For example: “Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views/ For his Union reports that he paid his dues” (9-10). This type of sound is rather merry and is a

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