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GCSE: Philip Larkin

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    'A Study of Reading Habits' by Philip Larkin Critical Essay

    3 star(s)

    In stanza one the reader can assume that the speaker is quite young and perhaps still at school. Larkin's use of a simple rhyming scheme (ABCBAC) acts as a symbol for the young speaker's simplicity of mind. The reader can also sense that the speaker has many problems in his life due to Larkin's use of the word 'cured', which suggests medicine, as if books were his personal painkillers. This also shows that the speaker believes his problems to be so bad that they require medical attention. The language used in the second half of the first stanza makes the reader aware that the speaker identifies with the heroes in these books he is reading.

    • Word count: 854
  2. This be the verse commentary

    The comma after the word "to" in line 2, acts as a wake-up call and a transition that shifts the tone from uncertainty back to being irate. In line 3, the imagery in "They fill you with the faults they had" depicts a child like an "empty" container or vessel that signifies innocence. However, they parent "fill" is a metaphor that suggests that they pour the "liquid" faults into the child, which is also referred to in the third stanza. Moreover, the alliteration in line 3 from "fill" and "faults" emphasizes the tone of hatred and anger throughout the poem.

    • Word count: 820
  3. ILLUSION VS REALITY

    In the poem "Faith Healing" and "Love Sings in Age" shows his ideas and feelings in hidden context by making the reader unveil his thoughts on what he thinks. "Upright in rimless glasses, silver hair, Dark suit....", the sibilance in this line emphasise the smoothness and the slickness of the faith healer who is expected to be dressed in this sort of way, He's portrayed as a good looking well dressed man as the "silver" hair shows his preciousness. The sibilance with the "s" sound is soft and gentle and could represent the faith healers attributes as him being soft and gentle towards the women he heals.

    • Word count: 1117
  4. An Arundel Tomb

    Each stanza is written in a neat way with every stanza having six lines. The neat structure of the poem mimics the way the effigies are lying still, next to each other, "Side by side, their faces blurred" The impression I get from the regular structure of the poem is that art can withstand the erosion of time, which connects to the passage of time which is the overall theme of this particular poem. Larkin also uses similes and metaphors to illuminate the passage of time, he uses the idea of relationship.

    • Word count: 945
  5. Larkin has been criticised for a lack of sympathy in his poetry. Based on your reading of the Whitsun Weddings collection of poems, how fair is this criticism.

    The way he talks about women in poems such as 'Wild Oats' gives an example of the way Larkin compared women to each other, weighing their attributes up such as a predatory male would do to insure he had the fittest mate. Larkin described this instinct as a 'shooting match' describing the competition that goes on between the sexes to get the best deal possible. He describes in 'Wild Oats' how he knew two women; one was a 'bosomy English rose' who was thoroughly described and continuously mentioned throughout the poem, and the other was 'her friend in specs' who he ended up dating for 7 years.

    • Word count: 1625
  6. How Larkin Portrays The Past and Attitudes To It In MCMXIV and Home Is So Sad.

    Larkin underestimates the naivety of the men who are queuing to sign up to fight for their country in the way he mentions The Oval and Villa Park. Larkin is imagining how those men do not know what they are letting themselves in for and how they are just giving themselves up willingly, signing up for a football or cricket match. This gives the reader the impression that Larkin would not have signed up as freely as they did. The vivid scene Larkin creates suggests that he is looking at a photograph.

    • Word count: 841
  7. What interests you about Larkin's use of language and verse form in three of the poems you have studied so far?

    meaning in life and on a smaller level for the land he is passing through that is not quite beautiful enough to be countryside. A technique that interests me is used in the line "harsh-named halt". This phrase uses a repetition of the /h/ sound, which is quite a hard sound to pronounce and therefore actually halts the reader's rhythm. This includes alliteration of the /h/ sound but also a kind of onomatopoeia because the word "halt" is actually a word that sounds like a stoppage or halt and actively brings the reader to a momentary pause.

    • Word count: 4637
  8. Examine Philip Larkin’s view of love and relationships expressed in his poems in The Whitsun Weddings.

    Despite the above, the rest of the poem suggests a sad view of love. The first stanza simply describes the tomb, but 'their proper habits vaguely shown.' Larkin gives a 'faint hint' that the true meaning of the tomb is hidden, that people do not see it. We are reminded of this later in the poem. In the second stanza, Larkin experiences a 'sharp tender shock:' he finds the tomb 'absurd.' Later in the poem, when his pessimistic views are revealing, one see the reason: the tomb (described as 'plainness,' showing insignificance), and their presentation of love (as seen by most people), is 'still' here.

    • Word count: 4654
  9. To what extent is "Essential Beauty" characteristic of the collection as a whole?

    The use of the verbs "block" and "screen" show how unavoidable these images of luxury and fantasy are. The same can be said about "silver knife" and "golden butter". The constant reference to luxuries is very strong in this poem as Larkin is trying to convey the point of fantasy and reality. This can be seen in "The Whitsun Weddings". Here Larkin uses descriptive language when describing families "grinning and pomaded" at newly married couples and is very critical when describing them. However, this poem contains a tentative optimism which is rare in Larkin's poetry, "sitting side by side".

    • Word count: 1162
  10. "Essential Beauty" by Philip Larkin is a perfectly balanced poem of two 16-line stanzas.

    They: "Reflect none of the rained-on streets and squares They dominate the outdoors." This criticism is at its height in its description of an advert for butter: "......High above the gutter A silver knife sinks into golden butter." Here he employs a cheap advertisement rhyme and exposes the ridiculous image which is clearly inappropriate for those upon whose house the advert may be displayed. Furthermore Larkin clearly despises the image of: "Well balanced families, in fine Midsummer weather." In the second stanza Larkin exposes the frothy emptiness of the images and moves on to explain the reality behind the images in the advert.

    • Word count: 691
  11. Choose two poems in which Larkin explores places, Discuss his use of language, form and structure and the attitudes he explores towards the subject (Here & The Importance of Elsewhere).

    Many claim that this poem was written during the time Larkin spent working in Ireland. The feeling that perhaps Larkin did not fit in is suggested by the strict half rhyme scheme that run's through this poem, consisting of words that partly rhyme and sound as though they should fit together. "Swerving East from Industrial shadows", Larkin begins his journey in the poem "Here". Larkin who we imagine to be sat, starring from the train window, begins to list rural images to emphasise the countryside landscape as he passes through it.

    • Word count: 1041
  12. Comparison of 'Ambulances' and 'First sight'

    Therefore his passion about animals is reflected in this poem, as they are innocent, suggested from the use of the word 'white' but born into a hostile world, which they have to cope with. The poetic voice in both the poems are third person and although the views may be of a narrator figure who is not Larkin, because of his passion to both subject themes, the views expressed in the poems are safely his. Ambulance comes from the word Ambulare, which is Latin for 'to walk/move.'

    • Word count: 727
  13. Is Larkin entirely cynical about the possibilities of love bringing meaning and happiness to life or is he a close tromantic?

    Both are trying to convince themselves that they are doing the right thing by staying together. This pun is also used in 'An Arundel tomb' in the first stanza. Side by side their faces blurred, The count and countess lie in stone. Here Larkin uses the pun to suggest whether or not the count and countess actually loved each other or whether this was just an act and their love was only perceived by their friends and family. This is shown in the third stanza.

    • Word count: 784
  14. Comparison Between Wild Oats and Broadcast

    Oats' are extremely enjoyable to read. In both these poems Larkin has placed himself as a man, who is not able to build a 'Broadcast' The first line in the first verse shows that there is a concert because one normally relates 'whispering and coughing' to a crowd standing in the audience of a concert. The whispering and coughing is very loud probably too loud, which destroys the artists concentration. "Giant whispering and coughing." The next line shows that the stage of the concert hall is higher than the audience because the poem states that the organ was looking down onto the audience.

    • Word count: 1785
  15. Analysis of The Explosion by Philip Larkin

    In addition, in the final stanza, the ?eggs? are said to be ?unbroken?. Eggs are normally symbols of new life, and the fact that they are ?unbroken? despite being ?lodged in the grasses? during the explosion essentially ensures that there will be a ?new life? or ?afterlife? for those killed in the explosion. The fact that this stanza is separated from the rest of the poem, with caesura at the end, emphasises this line, possibly suggesting that Larkin feels strongly about this subject, and wants to convey this message especially to the reader.

    • Word count: 629
  16. "Afternoons" by Philip Larkin analysis.

    ?Fading? further emphasises how their lives are vanishing. This links to the title of the poem and the use of plural suggests he is not discussing only one day but several days which shows how this is routine for these young mothers. They are doing the same things every day which show how monotonous their lives are. It could also express the stage of their lives they have reached. They are not in the early morning which could symbolise childhood but have not reached ?night? which could symbolise old age.

    • Word count: 1055

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?

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