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Who Far Does Philip Larkin's "Afternoons" Force The Reader To Reflect Upon An A Side Of Life To Which You Had Never Thought About.

1136 words - 5 pages

"Afternoons" is a melancholy poem, about the inevitability of change and the passing of youth. The poem, written by Philip Larkin, forces the reader to reflect upon the lifestyle of a young woman with a husband and family. Previously, I thought this would be a very fulfilling lifestyle; however, Larkin has changed my opinion on this matter. Although Larkin's thoughts on this life are completely biased, Larkin does make a valid point, which is that these young women lead a quite monotonous lifestyle.Larkin puts across many themes throughout the whole poem. He effectively conveys the demands that children can have upon a parent's life, in particular, the mother. However, he also reflects upon the changes that occur in people's life as a result of having children. Philip Larkin has efficiently brought to our attention the lack of freedom which has been brought about by adopting a new role. This is his main theme throughout the poem. He discusses this loss of freedom in great detail through his skilled techniques as a writer, including his powerful use of imagery and word choice. In the opening verse, Larkin presents the idea of the dull, repetitive and empty life of a typical housewife when this poem was written between the nineteen fifties and the nineteen sixties. By setting such a scene so quickly, Larkin forced the reader to contemplate the truth of this opinion. Through word choice, Larkin presented this idea to the reader, when he says:"In the hollows of afternoons"The word "hollows" meaning empty and creates the impression that the mothers' lives are empty also. Larkin believes that the life of a woman who marries and has a child will become empty, will lack fulfilment and will be unhappy. When Larkin wrote this I was shocked that he could have such a one sided opinion. Having a family does mean that you have to become less selfish. However, I do not believe that Larkin is correct when he implies that they have no contentment. Nevertheless Larkin did bring to my attention upon reading this that family life is not perfect. There are lots of sacrifices that have to be made in having a family that I did not realise before reading this poem. However, Larkin also suggests to us that the mothers are trapped in motherhood; he contrasts this with the freedom of the children. When he emphasises the children's freedom he says:"Setting free their children."Contrasting with:"Trees borderingThe new recreation ground."Which shows that the mothers are enclosed in this space; this daily routine is closing in on their lives and trapping them. However, in contrast to this image, we hear of the children being set free; they have no responsibilities. They are able to have a lot of fun and liberty, whereas the mothers are left to hold the bags and watch over the children. This emphasises the point that their freedom, since having children, has diminished. Reading the poem made me reflect on early childhood, where I realised what Larkin was saying was true...

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