• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

A critical analysis of Philip Larkin's 'Mr Bleaney'.

Extracts from this document...


Rachael Ward Tutor: Mr R. Pooley Twentieth Century Literature: 20% Exercise A critical analysis of Philip Larkin's 'Mr Bleaney'. Richard Davie once claimed that whilst he "recognised in Larkin's [poetry] the seasons of present-day England, [he also] recognised...the seasons of an English soul".1 In fact Philip Larkin's very interest in human nature, together with his dislike of "...self-indulgent romanticism..."2, contributed to the character and final draft of 'Mr Bleaney'. By pulling the life and personality of the ordinary English bachelor with that of the poetic personae who is about to buy into Mr Bleaney's apartment, not to mention his life and ways, Larkin is able debate whether 'how we live [actually] measures our own nature', a fear that plagued the author as well as the poetic personae. As we are escorted around Mr Bleaney's apartment the landlady describes how he stayed there 'the whole time he was at the Bodies'. To be at 'the Bodies' suggests that Mr Bleaney's stay in the apartment and even on this earth was only temporary. His body appears to be just a casing, thus implying that Mr Bleaney was simply the shell of man who was waiting to die. ...read more.


an anonymous and autocratic landlady".6 Mr Bleaney, after all depends on his sister's independence for his Christmas celebrations and a married couple for the holidays. Additionally the lack of books is substituted for the 'jabbering set', which is important as at the time 'Mr Bleaney' was written Larkin had recently moved into an uncomfortable apartment where he complained that the radio was "a nightmare"7, a mere way of rotting the brain. Instead of being independent Mr Bleaney has become almost numb to the rest of humanity. In the end Mr Bleaney's so-called life is ideal without really being a life. In this sense Mr Bleaney and the narrator are both extremely isolated, Mr Bleaney's only form of communication being the 'jabbering TV set', whilst the poetic personae interestingly tries to 'drown [out the sound]...with cotton wool', in some way the former ears have already been 'stuffed' by it. However this isolation is also shown in the distance between Mr Bleaney and nature. Like Larkin who on the one hand was an "extreme humanist [who made] himself numb to the non-human world in order to stay compassionate towards the human"8, Mr Bleaney doesn't contemplate the 'frigid wind tousling the clouds' choosing only to emphasis his own control by taking the 'bit of garden properly in hand'. ...read more.


Here there is a sudden realisation for the narrator, the delayed 'I don't know' echoing throughout the rest of the poem eclipsing what the narrator had been convinced he was better than. In the end neither Mr Bleaney nor the narrator 'warranted no better' than a 'hired box'. 'Mr Bleaney' is an exploration of a small world and is concerned primarily with the self-revelation of the narrator, not to mention the author, as when regarded an insight into Philip Larkin, 'Mr Bleaney' is a breaking away from "his [own] self protecting privacy..."14. The narrator realises that the small world of Mr Bleaney has become the same small world that he belongs to. The main figure of the poem, therefore is not 'Mr Bleaney' but the narrator, who struggles with the worth of his own life. Whilst he may have learnt to respect Mr Bleaney simply because he is content leading an ordinary life, he may also resent him for making him realise that he isn't a superior figure, but belongs to the same real world as Mr Bleaney, bringing about the "sudden collapse of his own morale"15. 'Mr Bleaney' is an intelligent poem that explores ideas of male identity, loneliness, simple modesty and false fantasies bringing them all into small yet equally complicated real world. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Larkin section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Larkin essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Some critics suggest that Larkin portrays human existence as bleak in his poetry - ...

    4 star(s)

    It also implies that there is another person with the narrator. It can be ascertained that this other voice is the Landlady. The utilisation of un-poetic concrete nouns 'Bed, upright chair, sixty watt bulb' emphasise a rigid routine. 'Behind the door, no room for books or bags' begins the third stanza.

  2. By referring to at least two poems, discuss by what means Larkin illustrates the ...

    As well as this, cigarettes are another way of advertising in the poem and illusion pervades this, as it does not explain that these smokers are dying. Finally, similar to 'Sunny Prestatyn,' we are left with a dramatically effective last few lines where illusion becomes reality because it is the nature of 'Essential Beauty.'

  1. The Whitsun Weddings" is Larkin's longest poem and describes the protagonists long, leisurely train ...

    It is debatable whether the ending of the poem is pessimistic or hopeful. The bright "sunlit....Whitsun' of the opening verse has become "rain" by the end of the poem. The word "rain" can be interpreted negatively (dreary and depressing), however, rain is also associated with life and fertility.

  2. Discursive Written Analysis of Wherever I Hang by Grace Nichols and Reflections by Mario ...

    repetition of nouns and reiteration determiners to emphasise just what she has given up to come to a new land. Possibly giving the reader the vehicle of travel and a new country and the tenor of a lack of feeling of belongingness.

  1. An interviewer once remarked to Larkin that" Your favourite subjects are failure and weakness" ...

    This description of the 'frigid wind' along with the reference to the "fusty bed" conjures up the sense of the (sexually)

  2. Larkin - a look at the mood poems were written in by Larkin

    (Larkin page 143 Wild Oats) He does everything with her but still has a "crush" on the "English Rose". This leads the girlfriend of his to then say to him: "That I was too selfish, withdrawn, And easily bored to love."

  1. With reference to "The Telephone Call" and "Telephone Conversation" discuss and compare the effectiveness ...

    by resorting to a comparison of his color with basic hair color. Soyinka then goes on to show the man's frustration by a sarcastic comment "turned my bottom raven black", which is made ironically polite by a preceding addressing of the landlady as "madam".

  2. In What Ways Does Larkin Present the Glory and Successes of Life?

    success and glory has been reduced to "not knowing how, not hearing who, the power of choosing gone". Likewise in 'This Be The Verse' the poetic voice emphasises the reality of life by proclaiming "don't have any kids yourself" disregarding the beauty of new life and definitively ending the romanticised view of having children.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work