"Ambulances" by Philip Larkin.

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“Ambulances” by Philip Larkin uses the every day incident of someone being taken away in an ambulance to convey the ideas of human life. The poem discusses the idea of the closeness of death; it’s randomness and its inevitability. I am going to look at how effectively Philip Larkin uses this everyday occurrence to lead to the general or universal statement: death will come to us all at some point no matter who you are. I will show this by discussing the use of word choice, theme and setting.

In stanza one, the impression that an accident can happen anywhere at any time is created by the feeling of menace. This is shown by the thought that ambulances can “come to rest at any kerb” suggesting that it doesn’t matter where you are an accident can happen. The use of the word “any” helps to emphasise this point and convey the theme of the randomness of death. The idea that death comes to us all is suggested by “All streets in time are visited”. The word “All” emphasises the fact that everyone dies, and the word “time” indicates that it is just a matter of time. I think that Larkin wanted to portray the idea that everyone will make their journey in an ambulance at some point. The ambulance is only symbolic for the doorway to death. At the beginning of the stanza the ambulances are described as “closed like confessionals,” this sets the feeling inside the ambulance of confined, secretive and private. This setting is a way of conveying the lonely separation of death and may have a religious meaning. The “confessionals” suggesting that all sins are forgotten at death because your life has no bearing on if you are going to die. The use of personification makes the ambulance seem like a corpse “give back none of the glances they absorb” This shows how even if you have been picked up by an ambulance, you are still not safe and death could be just around the corner.

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An important feature of the second stanza is that of contrast. The setting in this first half of the stanza is the activities of living people: “children strewn on steps or road” and “women coming from shops past smell of different dinners”. This is contrasted with the second half that focuses on death and continues the theme of death coming at anytime. The patient is made to seem dead and inhuman with the word choice “it is carried in and stowed”. The words “in” and “stowed” are not usually used with people and the impersonal tone of them ties ...

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This is a very strong essay that ranges around the text and makes coherent and relevant links between different points in the poem. Apt points are considered in real life contexts and plenty of evidence from the text is used to support the interpretations made. 5 Stars