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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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  • Essay length: 822 words
  • Submitted: 20/08/2003
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AS and A Level Philip Larkin

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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?

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. Accolades were granted Larkin in 1965 for his major work on 'The Whitsun Weddings'. The Arts Council Triennial Award for poetry and the Queen's Gold Medal for poetry.

The 'Whitsun Weddings' contains many pessimistic poems, 'Nothing to be said'

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