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Compare the Ways in which Plath and Larkin explore ideas about Parenthood in their poems

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Compare the Ways in which Plath and Larkin explore ideas about Parenthood in their poems. Both Plath and Larkin wrote in the mid 20th century, and as such watched the forefront of the women's rights movement. However, Plath committed suicide in 1963, before the 'women's liberation' and consequently had a more imprisoned view of motherhood. Plath herself was a mother to two children, and consequently had a more realistic grasp of being a parent, whereas Larkin never married, and consequently bases his parenthood poems around ideas and concept. One of Larkin's most famous poems relating to parenthood is 'Self's the Man'. His overpowering theme is of the dilution of ones self once having children. He reflected that being a parent weakened you as an individual, through such phrases as 'He has no time at all', which reflects the opinion that parents lose their life, and have to live through their children. However, he admits that he 'is more selfish than Arnold' because his only demand is for himself, which could also relate to the concept of marriage, also mentioned in this poem. ...read more.


Through this, she is implying that children will never appreciate their parents as they are too self-obsessed, which is the only negative image in 'You're', consequently implying that the benefits outweigh the downfalls, and that these problems are to be expected. The main difference between 'You're' and 'Self's the man' is that Larkin refers does not refer to the children by name, seeing them as non-entities, whereas Plath focuses only on them, perhaps because of the gender difference. However, the major parallel is that they both acknowledge that parents give up their lives for their children. 'Take one Home' by Larkin is one of the few poems he wrote that addresses children singularly. He suggests that children are fickle and toss aside what they become bored with, 'living toys...wears off'. Although the explicit referral is to pets, Larkin is implying the same is applicable to parents, a sentiment echoed in 'You're'. However, a rare softer side appears in this poem, which indicates a sympathy and pity for things without mothers, 'no dam'. ...read more.


For example, in 'a piranha...first communion', it refers to the first communion a parent gives its child to protect its religious future, but a 'piranha' can still turn a child from it. Plath acknowledges that she has done what she can - 'hung our cave with roses (to protect, as in a metaphor for the womb) but 'let the mercuric...drip'. The mercuric is a reference to poison, which indicates that Plath views the world as a place that will slowly kill a person, through its evil and cruelty. This is also reflected in the phrase 'The light burns blue', which in the metaphor of a miners cave, means that it is an indication of danger to come. The last line in the poem 'baby in the barn', is a religious reference, and means that the inevitability of harm and danger is present even to Jesus, the son of a God, a sentiment echoed in 'First Sight', where Larkin announces that it is too cruel to have a child, when the world is so harsh. 'Dockery and Son' by Larkin seems at first glance to be a positive poem, but though the subtext Larkin implies different. ...read more.

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