Before Reading:
  • I wrote this in about 40 minutes. Proof-reading was poor and practically non-existent.
  • I do not nessicarily need corrections. However, if you have the time I would appreciate them.
  • Tips on how I could improve my work.
  • A link to the poem: (EDIT: Sorry, I cannot post links as I do not have 5 posts, yet.) Just google "A.H Audens The Unknown Citizen".
  • Also, it's a Grade 12 assignment
Background Information on Assignment: We were given a list of poems to pick from to create device charts which helped develop the general theme of the poem. We then had to write an essay using somewhat of a general deductive format seperating each major device quotation (in mine, I beleive they were allusions as they alluded to other things in life and even non-existent things) into seperate paragraphs. Thus, ending with a Thesis/Introduction, 3 Sub-Paragraphs, and a Conclusion.


As the world progresses so does the technology that surrounds us. With the ever-advancing technological discoveries, inventions, and innovations it seems as if the humanity of the world is depleting. Humans struggle for a personal identity, however; with technology in the world today, it puts them back at square one. Humans are in a society today where they’re labelled, given a number, and are being displayed more and more as ‘faceless citizens’. Thus, the phrase “The Unknown Citizen” forms. The character being portrayed in the poem titled, “The Unknown Citizen” by W.H Auden seems to be living the average, active life. He’s had his jobs where he has dedicated the majority of his time to, he has been deployed to war, and he’s married and has five kids. However, the poem is a narrative through the eyes of a bureaucrat in a government office looking into his life. This bureaucrat that sits in an office all day reading and analyzing documents can see the materialism in ones life but not the actual meaning, emotions, or feelings conveyed throughout his life. Throughout the narrative, from start to finish, there are countless allusions used to refer to make-believe statistics and government procedures. Some of these include, the sub-title “To JS/07/M/378/ This Marble Monument Is Erected by the State”, where Auden states the quotation “He was found by the Bureau of Statistics”, and another instance where Auden refers to the quotation, “But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.” All of these quotations from A.H Auden show exemplary progress towards the general theme of: As technology generally becomes more efficient and useful, humans are becoming less of an identity and more of a number or a statistic. We are living in a world where every human being fights for their own individualism, however; the abundance of technology advancements contradict what humans are fighting for and results in people striving to be normal and to stray away from being distinguished as different.

First, the sub-title “To JS/07/M/378/ This Marble Monument Is Erected by the State” (Sub-Title) alludes to the concept of a make-believe concept enforced by the government that every human being must be classified by a alpha-numeric tag to distinguish who they are. Rather than being able to have their own personal identity. Throughout the poem, the individual being described is referred to as “JS/07/M/378”. The random letters and numbers followed by forward slashes are all justified by the government. Each section of letters and numbers is supposed to represent something. For example, the “JS” may refer to the first letter of his first name and the first letter of his last name; where “M” maybe specifies whether he or she is male or female. This quotation found in the sub-title is an ample example of the theme of the poem. Humans are being given alpha-numeric names to be distinguished by; meanwhile, they’re struggling for their own personal identity in a world clustered with the advancing technology.

Second, the quotation “found by the Bureau of Statistics” (1) allows the abstract concept of numbers and letters being the reference to a human being instead of their actual name to be more of a concrete concept. This quotation is symbolizing that a make-believe sector of the government (The Bureau of Statistics) are actually finding people and categorizing them by numbers, statistics, and facts. Where A.H Auden says, “He was married and added five children to the population” (25) and “Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation” (26) is merely just a statistic and fact that the government is recording. It is almost as if the only thing that matters is the monetary value to which everything one does. The initial quote and the two supporting quotes greatly contribute to the general theme of the poem by alluding to a make-believe “Bureau of Statistics” where the only thing that matters are the amounts and values you contribute back to society in place of the actual things that matter.

Lastly, where W.H Auden says, “But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc” (8) is quite ironic. The fact that he picked an automotive factory as his job (in my opinion) alludes to the concept of the assembly line used in automotive plants. The assembly line could very well relate to the process and journey of ones life. The concept of the assembly of a car is: only one part can be worked on at a time per station. (i.e. Tires) This concept relates quite well back to life in the theory of that generally you tackle one issue at a time, doing more than that will often lead to stress, over-working, and unwanted issues. This, in turn, also happens in the automotive assembly line. As per how this contributes to the general theme. The meaning behind the assembly line and its correlation to life is that the “Unknown Citizen” being analyzed in this poem is in fact just following the very typical, normal, and average life style instead of being different and striving for individualism.

In conclusion, the world today is constantly progressing to be more technology efficient but on the other side of the spectrum, humans are striving to have their own personal identities and to be different from one another. Meanwhile the technology is putting all humans back at square one. At the end of the poem, W.H Auden leaves a question. He says, “Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd: Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.” This statement shows that even though the government knows every statistic and fact going on in ones life, they don’t know the actual feelings or meaning to ones life.