A look at some of the main themes in Charles Baudelaire’s poem, Crowds.

The paper shows that in his prose-poem Crowds, Charles Baudelaire explores the themes of egoism, individualism, conformity. He delves deeply into the idea of the artist as a philosopher, and the artist’s ability to experience the world. The paper discusses how, in our modern, individualistic society, it is tempting to shift Baudelaire’s analysis to the common individual. It is the very individualism of modern society that allows us to reject his arguments in Crowds as adolescent egoism. The author of the paper shows that ultimately, however, both the modern reader and Charles Baudelaire fail in the attempt to stand apart from the conformity of the crowd – despite twin beliefs that individualism holds them apart from the crowd, both Baudelaire and the modern reader are ultimately consumed by the swelling mass of humanity.
While Baudelaire’s poem explores the role of the poet in the crowd, in the fervent individualism of modern North American Society his analysis can now shift to the common person. Certainly, each of us sees ourselves as individualistic. Our trials, struggles, joys and experiences are truly our own, and make us unique. We are superior to everyone else in the crowd; we are unique, and like poet, we stand apart. Today, of course, the crowd is made up of countless people, of which each unique individual is only a small part. It is in our modern individual. Ironically, today’s crowd may achieve its conformity despite of the very exercise of modern individualism.