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The building

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Poem commentary The building Larkin's 'The building' discuses ideas associated with identity and its loss, linking in with the concept of freedom and the ability to choose. This is supported by the frequent use of similes, metaphors, enjambment and use of language. He successfully incorporates the idea of a hospital thus exploring the human need for hope and faith, with the ever present conflict between science and religion. He illustrates the availability of science and religion to the reader by using references to locked churches, cathedrals and the lucent nature of the hospital. Death is also discussed in conjunction with the loss of identity and it is portrayed using various stylistic devices such as anthropomorphism and alliteration, creating certain effects of the reader. Larkin also creates a link between the speaker and the reader, whilst exploring the sense of solidarity experienced in a hospital, supporting these main themes with a variety of structural techniques and linguistic devises, such as; personification and enjambment which causes us to be drawn into the hospital along with the speaker. There is also a great use of the senses and alliteration, causing the reader to subconsciously react to the text. The principal theme discussed is, identity and its loss, this is initially presented to us in the title of the poem "The Building" this general name that could describe any structure, of any form. ...read more.


The concepts of hope, faith, religion and science are also explored. One of the main aspects of this is the availability of religion and science to the speaker, "a locked church" this shows that religion is not available to the speaker, as no one can enter a locked church, this leaves him with a limited choice, the choice of science. This restriction of freedom to choose is portrayed using the symbolism of the locked church. The reference made to the "lucent comb" at the beginning of the poem also has a religious side to it, as the only fallen angel was Lucifer or the devil, as this is used to describe the hospital, it shows the dispute between science and religion. Also the fact that a hospital can "Outbuild cathedrals" but cannot ultimately save you from "the coming dark" is stated at the end of the poem, this outlines the problems in the speakers mind about putting your faith in science, although of course for him religion is not an option. Your faith and religion are obviously a major part of your identity and it is important to be able to have the choice of what to believe. Sin is also discussed in conjunction with confession. "Here to confess that something has gone wrong." ...read more.


This is shown by the use of enjambement and vocabulary. We are also compared to coins, "Old, young; crude facets of the only coin" This shows how we are similar to coins in the sense that we are cycled through the system, through a machine. In the hospital your illness becomes a substitute for your identity as your a cycled through the system, and you can see yourself in those that are around you. "Someone's wheeled past, in washed-to-rags ward clothes; They see him, too. They're quiet. To realise this new thing held in common makes them quiet." The poem is most generally about identity. The main theme of identity is closely linked in with freedom of choice, faith and religion/science and death. Whilst discussing identity and its loss the speaker touches on; death, being the end of identity for the speaker, freedom and its loss, which in turn links in with autonomy and choice or lack of choice. Dependance and solidarity are also discussed and the main question of religion vs. science is depicted by the hospital and the church, the hospital being a beacon of hope and the church, locked. However the speaker does mention the abrupt end to your belief in science at the also abrupt end to the poem. This main theme of identity and all its sub sections are backed up by numerous uses of enjambement, alliteration, anthropomorphism, vocabulary, the senses and metaphors, similes and symbolism and many more linguistic devices. ...read more.

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