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In Audens 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 Audens The Age of Anxiety conveys reflect his belief that mans 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 1930s 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 1930s 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
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