The Theme of Religion in Church Going and In Westminster Abbey
Both poets’ John Betjeman and Philip Larkin in their poems “In
Westminster Abbey” and “Church Going”, treat the theme of religion as
a disrespectful ideology which is not worth believing or mentioning,
as it has been for centuries the way in which the church controlled
Throughout “Westminster Abbey” the description and language used by
the poet creates an ironic atmosphere that is the first point to
consider that shows that the poet does not see church as a serious
matter. The poem is written in the voice of a medium to high classed
women who believes to have the right to command god and order him as
if it were a servant.
It seems to the reader that the only real cause for the women to be
religious is to try to take benefit, to be protected by God from war
and from everything else, which could harm her. The arrogance and
selfishness of the women can be seen as the way the poet expresses his
feelings and thoughts about church, religion, believe and God. The
poet expresses his ideas and sees religion as an invention of Church
in order to control the population. The poet seems to have no belief
towards religion what so ever; he sees it as an obstacle that only
benefits the wealthy.
The irony of the poem is further emphasized by the structure of the
poem, a traditional hymn. John Betjeman shows the woman as not only a
selfish person but also a racist who believes that her race is
superior. “Gracious Lord, oh bomb the Germans” “And, even more,
protect the whites”. This may have been intentionally included to show
that the rich were not only the ones who favored most from the church,
but also the most selfish.
In “Church Going”, the poet expresses the same disrespectfulness
towards church as “In Westminster Abbey”.
The Church, also known as the house of God, is seen by the poet as a
current building and all being alike, “another church: matting, seats,
and stone…” some brass and stuff” which gives the reader a very
dismissive attitude from the poet. He agrees with Betjeman that the