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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.

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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. Philip Larkin's poetry is well known for its portrayal of his own views on relationship issues such as marriage, women and sex that has frequently caused controversy in all social classes both then and now. Most people in particular women don't like his sexist male views favouring the stereotypically 'beautiful' women to intellectual women purely because of their sexual attractiveness and voicing that a women's role is with 'an estateful of washing'. From his views, people would have criticised his poetry for having a lack of sympathy because he discriminates the female sex so coldly. I believe that in contrast to other people's views, he is indeed sympathetic, in the way that he sympathises with women because they were unfortunate enough to be of the female sex. This must seem an obscure way of analysing his thoughts but in some of Larkin's poems, we can see that he sympathises with women for being female, with men for being with women and also with himself for not matching up to his own expectations. ...read more.


He proves he doesn't believe in himself through the fact that he ended up dating the 'friend' who he didn't find as attractive as the other 'bosomy rose'. Like the previous two poems, 'Faith Healing' could be thought of as also being about himself in the way that they were about his way of thinking and the way he acts or his relationships. Even though this poem is seemingly about women, we are able to notice a rather jealous tone when Larkin speaks about how 'women file' up like a flock of 'sheep' and will follow whatever is said to them using in this case a religious speaker. Larkin describes the speaker as being Godly; 'rimless glasses, silver hair, dark suit, white collar' being able to 'persuade' women to do whatever he wants them to do, believe whatever he wants them to believe. One may think that this is another mention of his fantasies; being able to tell women what to do yet i feel the poem does in-fact have a sympathetic tone to it. Either sympathetic towards the women not being able to think for themselves, even though he is rather patronising towards them by using animalistic terms such as 'hoarse tears', 'thick tongues and 'sheepishly stray' or towards himself for not being the person who he wants to be. ...read more.


From this selection of poems, i personally have identified sympathy in all the poems i have looked at. I feel that sympathy towards yourself can still count as being sympathetic and i honestly feel that Larkin often was not happy with himself in the ways he felt inadequate and not able to be someone he wishes he would be. 'Afternoons' showed the most sympathy and unusually towards women which was very rare for him to look at a woman's point of view. Still it proves he can still sympathise with women if he actually thinks about them and their views. In his other poems he usually only concentrates of himself which might cause readers to think that he isn't being sympathetic but why would you need to talk about other people in your own poetry? He would not have thought of a target audience that a novelist would. He usually does talk about himself but as proven in 'Afternoons', when he does choose to think away from his point of view Larkin does show a sympathetic side backed up with an even more surprising saddened tone. This showing that even a stubborn man such as Larkin can still identify with other people in a sympathetic manor. Georgina Sims ...read more.

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