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

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

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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.

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