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Compare the ways in which Larkin and Duffy use language to explore relationships

Beth Kemp | Thursday May 26, 2011


Guide Navigation

  • A Sense of Isolation
  • Theme of Anger
  • Exploration of Relationships
  • Sense of Childhood
  • Ideas of Violence

Associated Resources

  • Compare the ways in which Larkin and Duffy use language to explore relationships.doc
  • Teacher Notes on C grade essay.doc
  • Using exemplar essays to improve students’ work

Both poets Philip Larkin and Carol Ann Duffy write about relationships. Using different language techniques, they can show how they portray their feelings towards them.  The poems I have chosen to show this are “Valentine? and “Disgrace? by Duffy and “Self’s the Man? and “Talking in Bed? by Larkin.

Duffy’s poem titled “Valentine? connotes romance.  However it can be misleading as you would expect romantic love; instead she writes about the cynicism of love.  Just like in “Self’s the Man? Larkin writes about connotations n how to put up with others, and describes marriage as an ordeal.  Larkin believes knowledge is more important as he knows himself that he shouldn’t be in a relationship:

Only I’m a better hand
At knowing what I can stand
Without them sending a van.
Or I suppose I can.

This is proven by “know what I can stand? so he knows that he should be single and less selfish as he won’t have to get others involved.  “Without them sending a van? means that by staying single, you have a better chance of staying sane. “Sending a van? connotes a ‘loony’ van which shows that being married is selfish as he has to be concerned about other people, not just himself.  Also “knowing what I can stand? connotes that marriage is an ordeal by the word “stand? as you have to stand other people in a marriage, not just think about yourself.  So Larkin shows his version of the truth about love.

Similarly, Duffy writes the truth about love.  In “Valentine? her view is that neither love nor marriage is “cute?.  Sometimes people never recover from a broken relationship.  They will continue to feel...

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