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Examine Philip Larkin’s view of love and relationships expressed in his poems in The Whitsun Weddings.

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Examine Philip Larkin's View of Love and Relationships Expressed in His Poems in The Whitsun Weddings 'The Whitsun Weddings' published in 1964 by Larkin, made him famous. In the following poems in this essay; one sees reoccurring themes: marriage and relationships, importance (and nature) of love, the passage of time and fantasy with reality. Although not all are directly related to 'love;' some themes could be used to support and explain Larkin's opinions. The content of his poems are everyday life, personal experience or memory. The language used is simple, with irony and humor, which engages the reader. However, when carefully read, one could see deeper interpretations, which reveals Larkin's view of love. 'An Arundel Tomb' was based on an actual stone monument. The main theme in the poem is love and the impact of time on it. However, this could be interpreted as two opposing meanings. Often, as one's 'instinct,' and due to the simplicity of the language: it is seen that Larkin is optimistic about love. But, after careful analysis, one finds another view of love; where it is weak. At first glance, the poem suggests the power of love. 'What will survive of us is love,' this is a strong statement. The word 'will' adds confidence in the prediction that love will 'survive,' which imply love is everlasting (beyond death), and nothing will stop it. The tomb has lasted 'through lengths and breadths / Of time,' which again has an emphasis on the strength of love. This phrase expresses time as an intimidating existence, yet the tomb, which represents love, is still here. There are other phrases, which suggest similar meanings, such as 'holding her hand' and 'side by side,' these convey togetherness. This gives a warm tone, which is what love is to most people. Despite the above, the rest of the poem suggests a sad view of love. ...read more.


We are shown Larkin's perspective of how young people react to their youth and love. Their 'unfailing sense' implies confidence in love; this feeling grows comparable to 'a spring-woken tree.' Youth here is, like a tree, strong and full of hope when it's young. There is also a sense of awakening, they are growing, and finding out more about 'that hidden freshness.' This refers to love, it might be waiting for them or the young are just about to fall in love. Overall this stanza conveys the idealized love, where it is hopeful and unstoppable. Larkin lets the reader down in the third stanza, as we are presented with the harsh reality of love. She comes to realization when love 'broke out' to show its fakeness. This is a dramatic phrase; there is a sense of enlightenment. The effect is that Larkin has surprised the reader. Imagery in the first part is bright; the 'much-mentioned brilliance' of love is exaggerated. The 'glare' may have blinded her with love, thus unable to see reality. Described as 'sailing above,' larking tells us this view of love is out of reach consequently it will not 'solve and satisfy.' It is hard to admit the failure of love, because she (and people who hold this view) believed in it so much. The last line points out Larkin's view directly: love always fails. I think this poem is most downbeat of all. Larkin has presented us with a emotionally tragic tale, and tries to convince the reader his views. And I think the poem does this well. The nostalgic and sad tone reduces readers' confidence in love. 'Talking in Bed' in similar to the previous poem; it also examines the significance love and relationships. However the content differs, this one refers to a married couple. The language and structure is also different. 'Talking in Bed' is much shorter, lack of details lead to ambiguity. ...read more.


Although, he still has not the confidence to talk her. And gives a slight hint of a breakup. As one would expect, the final stanza represents the final stage of the relationship-break up, in spite of the stable relationship. 'Rehearsals refers to arguments that nearly separated them. But, they had enough and decided to split. Larkin describes it as an 'agreement.' It is an unusual description, as it makes relationships something unemotional and demeaning. He was 'bored' with love, but it could have been vice versa: love may be boring naturally. Larkin does try to comfort himself by learning something from it: he was responsible for the breakup. Love is not as powerful as one may think, as it did not survive Larkin's selfishness. Again Larkin mentions the 'rose,' after twenty years he still hasn't forgotten. He might have chosen to have a picture of her with 'fur gloves on,' this might have made her more attractive (gloves are elegant) but less intimidating (gloves protecting Larkin from the thorns). She was an 'unlucky charm,' because she was beautiful but was dangerous to carry her photograph when Larkin is dating someone else. I think this poem explains Larkin's views clearly. The language is very simple, yet it reveals a lot about him. From 'Wild Oats,' one can see why Larkin has written his poems with such pessimistic message. His failure of relationship has led him to see the world as he had experienced it. He thinks love and relationship is insignificant ('An Arundel Tomb,' 'The Whitsun Weddings'). People have praised the idea of love ('Love Songs in Age.') but it has lead to disappointment because the idealized love can never be realized. Reality is, love does have an end ('Talking in Bed'); and after a certain time, love plays a little part of life ('Afternoons'). Larkin believes the reality should be reveal to people ('Sunny Prestatyn'). Of all, love's foe is time; as all poems are linked with time, and the love has not survived it. ?? ?? ?? ?? Min-Kai Lin GCSE English 6/1/02 1 Min-Kai Lin 11AJP ...read more.

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