Essay about Autobiography at an Air-Station by Philip Larkin

Essay about Autobiography at an Air-Station by Philip Larkin

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Autobiography at an Air-Station by Philip Larkin


Progress is in the eye of the beholder. Throughout the years society has forced nature out of its life and has instead adopted a new mechanical and industrialized lifestyle. Technology may be deemed as progress by some, where it is thought of as a positive advancement for mankind. Yet technology can also be a hindrance for society, by imposing itself on society and emptying the meaning out of life. In “Autobiography at an Air-Station,” Philip Larkin conveys his distaste of how society has denounced nature. By employing an ironic tone in the sonnet, Larkin comments on the significance of the sonnet in relation to industrial life. Life has become ironic because it is no longer a natural life that society leads, but a fabricated life. Through his use of rhyme and meter, the extended metaphor comparing the air-station to life, imagery, and diction, Larkin reflects on what life has come to be: a deviation from the intrinsic.

The ironic use of rhyme and meter, or the lack thereof, is one of the devices Larkin uses to emphasize his need to break out of industrial society. The typical rhyme scheme is not followed, but instead an ironic rhyme scheme is used in the sonnet in the form of abab cdcd efg efg. Larkin writes this poem as a sonnet but at the same time diverges from what a typical sonnet is supposed to be. He is commenting on society’s inclination to form restrictions on those within it. By writing out of the accepted form of a sonnet, his writing becomes more natural because of a lack of constraints due to following certain rules and fitting a certain form. He breaks free and writes as he pleases and does not conform to society. Just as with the rhyme, ...


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...hich causes depression and unhappiness. Humans have accepted this industrialized life as true without any proof, all on an “Assumption” (line 14). Larkin is asking where the proof is that humans do in fact need technology. Larkin is suggesting that people in society should question why they are not leading the natural life they were intended for, and are instead constricted in a fake world, created to simplify life, but which has in fact complicated life even further.

Through ironic use of rhyme and meter, the extended metaphor, imagery, and diction, Larkin questions the society in existence. But what Larking fails to realize is that society has advanced so much in technology. Would it even be possible to reinstate a natural lifestyle? Or have we come so far from what a natural lifestyle for humans would be that the word natural has lost all meaning?

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