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Larkin has often been regarded as a hopeless and inflexible pessimist. In the light of the 'Whitsun Weddings' how true is this statement?

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Introduction

Larkin has often been regarded as a hopeless and inflexible pessimist. In the light of the 'Whitsun Weddings' how true is this statement? This statement is true to some extent, however, Larkin is regarded as this pessimistic writer of poetry because he is a realist poet. In his work Larkin focuses on intense personal emotion but strictly avoided sentimentality or self-pity, therefore this would create a pessimistic view on his work. Most of Larkin's poetry is very observational and provincial, and his feelings of failure could have affected this. The death of his mother was the main foundation of his depression however in January 1942 he failed an army medical examination due to bad eyesight. He was therefore deemed unfit for military service. This could have affected his depression, so as to outline a motive for his pessimistic poetry. Having saying this, the amount of positive successes' in Larkin's life out numbers the failures. ...read more.

Middle

"Life is slow-dying" He uses the expression slow and not slowly to emphasise change in the community. This statement is supported by a quote later on in the poem, "Hours giving evidence", this quote gives the readers an appearance of the community fading every hour. The poem ends with an inadequate contradiction. "Means nothing; others it leaves Nothing to be said". The poem is almost left with a two-sided argument. Larkin against the community. Larkin's side of the argument is shown through the "Nothing to be said" element, as he cannot stop the community fading whatever he says, consequently no matter what he say's it means nothing. Larkin uses this as a way of preserving ways of the past. He doesn't like contemporary life. We can see this through an unambiguous link between poems. We can see a sense of Isolation in 'Mr Bleaney' and 'nothing to be said'. ...read more.

Conclusion

An enigmatic reference to "the Bodies", presumably a nickname for Mr Bleaney's former workplace, is somehow apt. Its slightly ghoulish ring corresponds to the notion of him as a spectre, silently hovering at the speaker's shoulder. Likewise when the room is referred to as "one hired box", sounding like nothing so much as a coffin. The "saucer-souvenir" doubling as an ashtray reinforces the idea of migration that both the speaker and his predecessor were just passing through. And of course the poem's closing verses describe the fear that all our lives are no more than a 'passing through', furthermore, that our success, our happiness or otherwise in so doing are reflected by "how we live". Given this, the conclusion would seem to be that if all one has to show for oneself is a grubby rented room then one's life cannot have amounted to much. These are very negative comments Larkin makes which show pessimism in even his most pragmatic poems. ...read more.

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