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"Ambulances" by Philip Larkin.

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Introduction

CRITIACAL EVALUATION "Ambulances" by Philip Larkin uses the every day incident of someone being taken away in an ambulance to convey the ideas of human life. The poem discusses the idea of the closeness of death; it's randomness and its inevitability. I am going to look at how effectively Philip Larkin uses this everyday occurrence to lead to the general or universal statement: death will come to us all at some point no matter who you are. I will show this by discussing the use of word choice, theme and setting. In stanza one, the impression that an accident can happen anywhere at any time is created by the feeling of menace. This is shown by the thought that ambulances can "come to rest at any kerb" suggesting that it doesn't matter where you are an accident can happen. The use of the word "any" helps to emphasise this point and convey the theme of the randomness of death. The idea that death comes to us all is suggested by "All streets in time are visited". ...read more.

Middle

A clever technique used in this stanza by Larkin was colour imagery. The use of colour red in the description of the "stretcher blankets" signifies death and the contrast with "wild white face" may allude to the red and white symbol of the Red Cross. I feel the point Larkin was trying to stress here was that even in a normal place with everyday activities going on around you, death can still strike. There is a more reflective quality about stanza three. The comment of onlookers as they watch the ambulance leave "poor soul" is really directed at themselves, as they realise their own vulnerability to sickness and ultimately, death. The use of the word "emptiness" is used to continue the idea that we will all die, with the repetition of "and" adding weight to emphasise this. By using "we" in "under all we do" suggests that the futility of life, that is Larkins theme throughout, applies to the patient, himself as well as the reader. ...read more.

Conclusion

The thought that the ambulance brings the patient "closer what is left to come" is symbolic of the poets view that we are always rushing towards death. The final line leaves us with the idea of how death makes life "dulls to distance" and everything that made the life disappears forever. After reading and analysing "Ambulances" it is obvious how well Larkin manages to use this ordinary everyday accident, to give the reader and insight into the apparent futility of life; death will come to us all no matter who we are or what we do, it is just a matter of time. I can see where Larkin is coming from but I believe that all we can do is the best we can with the time given to us. We have to understand the choices we have already made and make sure that when the day comes we can make it across the river of death to reach the other side: death should never be unexpected, you should be ready for it. The reason is in Larkin's own thinking, death comes to us all it's only a matter of time. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

5 star(s)

This is a very strong essay that ranges around the text and makes coherent and relevant links between different points in the poem. Apt points are considered in real life contexts and plenty of evidence from the text is used to support the interpretations made.

5 Stars

Marked by teacher Laura Gater 07/08/2013

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