Term Paper: Artwork, Poem, or Film That Holds Meaning

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¶ … Artwork, Poem, or Film That Holds Meaning for You

An artwork that has meaning for me

There are many poems and works of literature that hold special significance and meaning for me personally. However, one poem that I continually reread and which "speaks to me" on many levels is the poem the Unknown Citizen by W.H. Auden.

Auden wrote the poem in 1940 and it has been described as an."...epitaph of a man, as told by the state." (the Unknown Citizen) the intention of the poem is, through the use satire, is to make the reader aware of the way that the ordinary individual in society is often dominated and controlled by governments and authority. This theme is of concern to me personally, as it refers to the abuse of authority and the attempts by those in power to manipulate and control ordinary people in many areas and countries of the world.

Even more importantly, the poem refers to the significance of human and individual freedom and the fact that in many instances human beings are tragically unaware of the way that they are being manipulated and deprived of their lives and freedom. The poem also makes the reader aware of the fact that freedom is only possible it we are aware of the way that those in power attempt to deprive us that freedom. Furthermore, while written in the early Twentieth Century, this poem is applicable to modern society and the search for freedom in many regions of the world today. Another aspect that makes this one of my favorite poems is the simple but effective style in which it is written.

It is also important to understand the context of the time in which the poem was written. Auden wrote the poem at the time just after the Great Depression in the United States. This period was to change the way that people viewed and related to central government. Many felt that the government had begun to treat individuals impersonally and as numbers in the "system." This was also related to the introduction of social security numbers that took place at this time in history.

Depersonalization and loss of individuality were aspects that writers and artists reacted against and this poem refers to the way in which the unique individual becomes little more than a number in the governmental register. The poem also makes us aware of an important modern facet that is encountered not only in American society but also in many counties throughout the world; namely, the danger of unthinking conformity. In other words, the poem awakens the reader to the danger of mediocrity and passivity and of simply accepting the status quo or the "way things are" without questioning. (Firchow, 1999, p. 454) as… [END OF PREVIEW]

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