Analysis of "Slough" by John Betjemen

Authors Avatar by adiththomasgmailcom (student)

In Slough, Betjemen presents many ideas about his views on technological  advancement. Most of these views are negative, and he comes off as being very cynical of the system, and also portrays a sort of violent hatred towards the industrialisation and rise of capitalism in Slough. However, he also seems to have some hope for the future.

Initially, Betjemen uses lots of repetition of words such as ‘tinned’ to emphasise his views. The phrase ‘tinned mind, tinned breath’ could possible be used to suggest even the very things that make people human - such as the mind and the breath - have too become commercialised and artificial due to the growth of industry and capitalism in Slough. Furthermore, he compares mind and breath to ‘tinned milk, tinned beans’, which could possibly be used to symbolise how ‘mind and breath’ have lost all value or meaning.In addition, he refers to ‘peroxide hair’ and ‘synthetic air’. This could possibly be used by Betjemen to portray the artificial nature of modern living and how unnatural and superficial it is. This cynicism is emphasised by the way in which this poem makes use of lots of enjambment. This could possibly suggest that this poem is a sort of ‘rant’ by Betjemen, and that he releases all his views in a sort of ‘stream of consciousness’. Alternatively however, the fact that full stops are used at the end of each stanza could possibly suggest that Betjemen has structured this poem intentionally, to emphasise every point made in each stanza, and that this poem is used to provoke thought in  the reader.

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John Betjemen is also portrayed as being quite angry at these occurrences in the poem. The fact that he calls for ‘friendly bombs to fall on Slough’ is quite drastic, and the oxymoron of ‘friendly’ and ‘bombs’ is quite peculiar, but also portrays how he wants Slough to be destroyed. Furthermore, he writes ‘Swarm over, Death’, which again, is quite drastic, but Betjemen possibly uses this phrase to portray the extent to which he hates Slough now. He also asks these ‘bombs’ to ‘blow’ Slough ‘to smithereens’, which could possibly be used to suggest that he wants the town ...

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