Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mr. Bleaney by Philip Larkin

English Literature Homework

Poem Analysis

Philip Larkin portrays a theme of loneliness in the poem 'Mr. Bleaney'. Not only does the story within the poem suggest a feeling of solitude and emptiness, Larkin also deliberately uses language and techniques to emphasise the theme he's going for.

First of all, the title itself is of a person who's first name we do not know. It creates a sense that it is irrelevant and that 'Mr. Bleaney' isn't of much importance. The lack of strong syllables in the title makes it sound monotonous giving the impression of boredom, of a life lacking excitement.

The poem, throughout, is a big metaphor of Mr. Bleaney's life. The way the room is described doesn't really make an impression and shows how rough and lonely it must have been to live there. For example, Larkin uses the words 'littered' and 'upright'. Also he talks about a 'sixty-watt bulb', which states how his surroundings weren't very bright, like how his life must have had little inspiration.

Larkin reinforces this by describing a repetitive habit of Mr. Bleaney visiting the same family members every year. 'The Frinton folk put him up for summer holidays' - the poet gives the feeling that Mr. Bleaney wasn't really wanted there and that they're just putting up with him. It suggests that they are most probably forced to look after him, out of pity maybe.

Along with the lack of excitement in his life, Larkin also portrays Mr. Bleaney as very reliant on the people around him. The quote 'they moved him' not only symbolises death and hints that Mr. Bleaney has passed away but also that he was unable to make decisions for himself.

'One hired box' evokes the images of a coffin, again leading the reader to think that Mr. Bleaney has indeed passed away. Prior to this, Larkin describes the room's curtains as 'thin and frayed', which could be a metaphor of Mr. Bleaney's past condition and it could be argued that he died of some sort of illness.

The use of two characters, being the landlord and the buyer of the old room, ensures that the poem is based on reality. The pessimistic view of the assumed buyer shows lack of pride. The quote 'I lie where Mr. Bleaney lay' suggests that even though his presumptions of what the man's life must have been like aren't very assuring, his is no different either. He is in the same position. He also has to rent that shabby room like Mr. Bleaney did, showing that he isn't rich enough to own a place of his own too. He is also presumably alone in renting that room, suggesting that he doesn't have many friends either.

The enjambaments used to carry sentences on symbolises the pointless existence of Mr. Bleaney, having to continue living a dull and tedious life. The lack of obvious similes and metaphors again suggests boredom and lack of inspiration.

In the last phrase, the buyer says 'I don't know', which states how even though he can deduce this man's life by how he used to live and what he's got to show of his previous existence ('that how we live measures our own nature'), he still cannot be sure exactly who he was and what he was like when he was alive. I personally think that Larkin had a hidden message between the lines of this poem, which is not to judge anyone when you know very little about them.


D'Yandra Forrester said...

A well-developed and interesting analysis. I enjoyed reading it, thank you! ^ ^

areeb-ashar said...
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