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Isolation and Confronting the Cultural Norms in Philip Larkin´s Poems

analytical Essay
2755 words
2755 words
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Inability to communicate and longing to relive the past have been reoccurring themes throughout literature. However, Philip Larkin, whose poetry is often associated with the mundane and marginalized, transcends these themes by allowing his poetry to become more than just slices of life. His poems “Talking in Bed” and “High Windows”, examine the seemingly ordinary experiences of a couples silence, and wanting to relive the past through the lens of isolation and questioning cultural values. In his poems “Talking in Bed” and “High Windows” Larkin uses simplistic language to convey the themes of isolation and questioning the values of cultural norms.
In his poem “Talking in Bed”, Larkin uses simplistic language to revel themes of isolation and questioning the values of cultural norms, specifically in the evolution of romantic relationships. Larkin begins with the speaker lying in bed, with his partner, reflecting on the expectations of their relationship. He ponders how their physical closeness should yield to an emotional connection, or “talking”, which it doesn't. “Talking in bed ought to be easiest, / Lying together there goes back so far, / An emblem of two people being honest.” (1-3). In his opening stanza, Larkin establishes a feeling of isolation from the speaker and the person with whom he is sharing a bed. By establishing this separation between the two, Larkin calls into question their level of intimacy, of type of relationship, this couple is engaged in. As Bahaa-Eddin M. Mazid, PhD. points out in “‘this unique distance from isolation’: A stylistic analysis of Larkin’s “Talking in Bed”, the couples physical sharing of the bed indicates physical intimacy while their inability to communicate orally suggests a lack of emot...

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...s image, there is also isolation, as he is limited to observer, free to relive his own cultural battles but removed from the new generational expressions.
In his poems “Talking in Bed” and “High Windows” Phillip Larkin is able to use simplistic language to convey the themes of isolation and questioning the values of cultural norms. In “Talking in Bed” Larkin uses a perceived common social experience and feelings of isolation to relay a deeper social commentary on the evolution of relationships. Additionally, in “High Windows” Larkin’s choice of explicit words and tone, not only draws in themes of isolation but draws attention to the cultural values of sex and religion. Though his poems seem to tackle mundane life experiences, his singular view helps convey themes of isolation and questioning of cultural values which transcend his poems into universal relatability.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how philip larkin transcends these themes by allowing his poetry to become more than just slices of life. his poems "talking in bed" and "high windows" examine the seemingly ordinary experiences of a couples silence.
  • Analyzes how larkin uses simplistic language to revel themes of isolation and questioning cultural norms, specifically in the evolution of romantic relationships.
  • Opines that those who ‘talk in bed’ must be intimate or close, at least ostensibly so.
  • Analyzes how larkin hypothesizes that talking should be easy, but the only connection between the two is their physical sharing of the bed.
  • Explains the use of the verb ‘ease’ and an ‘easy lay’.
  • Describes the meanings of ‘to lie with’, namely, to sleep with, and to copulate with.
  • Analyzes how mazid points out the implications of larkin's word choices, which draw attention to the physical, sexual, nature of the couples relationship.
  • Analyzes how larkin establishes themes of isolation and questioning cultural norms by physically moving the poem's narration and perspective away from the internal voice of the speaker to an observation
  • Analyzes how larkin shifts perspectives of the poem from reflective to observational. the juxtaposition between the outside world and the couple is highlighted in nahajec's poem.
  • Opines that the second most prominent isotopy in the poem is that of a malicious, indifferent, if malicious character.
  • Analyzes how mazid draws attention to the bleak description of the towns and larkin's use of personification as a means to strengthen the theme of isolation while also reiterating the changing cultural expectations.
  • Analyzes how larkin symmetrically returns to the couples isolation and inability to communicate.
  • Analyzes how larkin's use of the word "isolation" in line nine stands out as an almost affirmation that there is some isolation being felt by the speaker.
  • Analyzes how larkin's poem "high windows" uses simplistic language to reveal themes of isolation and questioning the values of social norms.
  • Analyzes how larkin sets the tone for the poem as observational commentary. he begins by commenting on the "kids" who have become more open about their sexuality from the publicity of contraception.
  • Analyzes how the speaker, changing perspectives, moves back from his voyeuristic observation and reflects, in a envious tone on the youth and their ideals.
  • Analyzes how larkin's view expands, including himself as an older man envious of youthful freedom. he compares youthfulness with being able to separate the obligations of life the way a combine mechanically separate grain.
  • Analyzes larkin's generational comparison and commentary on cultural norms by reflecting back on his own youth.
  • Analyzes how agin wain examines the cultural implications of larkin's commentary "religious belief ceased to be a preponderent element in western civilization."
  • Analyzes how larkin establishes his views on religion by painting the scene of looking out a window at the vast blue nothingness of the sky.
  • Analyzes how t.j. ross reiterates larkin's consistency in his perspective of the world and draws parallels between the speaker and the "kids".
  • Analyzes how phillip larkin uses simplistic language to convey themes of isolation and questioning cultural norms in his poems "talking in bed" and "high windows."
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