This essay The age of anxiety has a total of 386 words and 4 pages.
The age of anxiety
Analysis of Auden's The Age of Anxiety
In Auden's lengthy poem, "The Age of Anxiety", he follows the
actions and thoughts of four characters who happen to meet in a bar during
a war. Their interactions with one another lead them on an imaginary quest
in their minds in which they attempt, without success, to discover
themselves. The themes and ideas that Auden's "The Age of Anxiety" conveys
reflect his belief that man's quest for self-actualization is in vain.
W. H. Auden was born in York, England, in 1907, the third and
youngest son of Constance and George Auden (Magill 72). His poetry in the
1930's reflected the world of his era, a world of depression, Fascism, and
war. His works adopt a prose of a "clinical diagrostician [sic]
anatomizing society" and interpret social and spiritual acts as failures of
communication (Magill 74). They also put forth a diagnosis of the
industrial English society among economic and moral decay in the 1930's
(Magill 72). Conflicts common in his works are those between war and peace,
corruption of modern society, and the "dichotomy between the rich and the
poor" (Barrows 317).
"The Age of Anxiety" is, in general, a quest poem. Unlike the
ideal quest, however, this quest accomplishes nothing. The characters
search for the meaning of self and, in essence, the meaning of life, but
because their search is triggered by intoxication due to alchohol, the
quest is doomed from the start. Throughout the quest, the characters
believe themselves to be in a form of Purgatory when they are allegorically
in Hell. They fail to realize this due to "the modern human condition
which denies possibility but refuses to call it impossible" (Nelson 117).
In "The Age of Anxiety", there are four characters of significance.
Quant, the first to be introduced, addresses himself in a mirror, an action
typical to a drunken man. He is an aging homosexual widower who finds
refuge in the mirror because it offers him the easiest way of facing
himself (Nelson 117-118).
Malin, the most dominant character overall, is a medical
intelligence officer on leave from the Canadian Air Force. His background
labels him as the "would-be doctor and leader" in the world of "The Age of
Anxiety". His name is reminiscent, in relation to the war, of a malingerer,
and the composition of his personality hints at the evil within him (Nelson
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