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An Analysis of Irony in The Unknown Citizen, Rite of Passage and Bully
In the poem “The Unknown Citizen”, Auden’s use of irony is effortless to see. In this poem he is describing a citizen who is essentially unremarkable. This particular person has not done something incorrect, and describes him by saying, “and all the reports on his conduct agree, that, in the contemporary sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint”. The fact that he has written a poem which is praising someone for being so mediocre is ironic in itself. One more use of irony in this poem is when Auden says, “Was he free of charge? Was he happy? The query is absurd: Had something been wrong, we should definitely have heard.” With this quote, Auden is saying that there could be absolutely nothing wrong with this citizen. However, due to the fact of his use of irony, his words have yet another meaning. Auden is implying that even though he lived a boring life exactly where he did no wrong, it does not necessarily mean he was entirely pleased.
“Rite of Passage” by Sharon Olds includes irony as nicely. This poem talks about kids at a celebration, but holds a deeper which means. When Olds describes the scene as “a room complete of tiny bankers, they fold their arms and frown,” this is an example of irony simply because even though it sounds like she is describing adults, she is truly describing the youngsters. An additional example of irony that Olds uses in this poem is when she says, “like Generals, they unwind and get down to playing war, celebrating my son’s life.” This line shows her use of irony since WWII was happening when this poem was written. War is clearly a terrible issue, but this example is ironic due to the fact the youngsters are casually playing it, having a excellent time, and carrying out it all while celebrating her son’s birthday. A birthday is the celebration of one more year of someone’s life, but these kids are playing a game that is about death.
The poem “Bully” is an additional very good example of a poem that includes irony. Espada describes this college by saying, “now the Roosevelt school is pronounced Hernandez”. Espada continues by saying that “Roosevelt is surrounded by all the faces he ever shoved in eugenic spite,” which is an instance of his irony. This is ironic due to the fact this school was named soon after Roosevelt, someone who participated in the Spanish-American war. Even so the young children that now fill the college are spanish speaking children. They depict the type of people that Roosevelt fought against, but now they attend his college and “plot to spray graffiti in parrot-brilliant colors across the Victorian mustache and monocle”.
Writers and poets often use irony in their perform. It is a tool used to make their words have numerous meanings. Sometimes it can be hard to see at initial. “The Unknown Citizen” by W. H Auden, “Rite of Passage” by Sharon Olds, and “Bully” by Martin Espada all are poems that contain excellent examples of the use of irony.
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