Compare Plath and Larkin

Topics: Question, Afterlife, Poetry Pages: 8 (3255 words) Published: April 19, 2012
Compare and contrast the ways in which death is portrayed in Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Days’ and ‘Ambulances’ and Sylvia plath’s ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Death and Co’ The poems i am going to analyse are:
Lady Lazarus
Death and Co
It is understatement to say that both Sylvia Plath and Philip Larkin have immense depth and subsidiary meanings to their poems, both writers expertly structure their poems and used varied techniques to convey their themes of death and instil their messages to their readers. Plath goes about it an autobiographical manner and parades death as a theatrical show leaving the audience in shock and awe however Larkin presents death in a rather trivial manner in comparison to Plath. He juxtaposes the everyday street scene with horrific. He uses the ambulance as a momentary that death is every present and our lives ultimately lead to the journey of death. The oxymoron Lady Lazarus is significant to the poem. Lazarus, originally a man who is raised from the dead by Jesus is feminised and turned into Lady Lazarus. Plath summarises what she feels; “the terrible gift of being reborn”. The alliterative form of address “Lady Lazarus” liberates herself from the irrevocable influence of the male figure portrays her idea of feminine superiority over men and how women should excel over men in whatever they do however Larkin’s title “Ambulances” is a noun that is commonly associated with the negative imagery relating to accidents,hospitals ,blood, injuries and most importantly death. Both writers use lexical techniques to convey their outlook and opinion on the theme of death; some of which consists of rhyme, rhetorical devices and their choice of vocab. Rhyme is used in the first stanza as Plath declares “I have done it again/One year in every ten” she emphasises to the equal repartition of her near-death experiences and holds connotations of her suicide attempts, “one year in every ten” and one being premeditated at this stage. Plath speaks in hyperboles to emphasize her suicidal intention and her need to control her death and become a “walking miracle”. The pre modifier “walking” illustrates the fact that despite her many near death experiences she is still alive and ready as ever to attempt another suicide experience. The buoyant noun “miracle” that Plath describes herself as, demonstrates to the reader just how romantically Plath thinks of death to be and how her ending her own life is a seemingly phenomenal way of dying.

In comparison to this, Larkin contrasts his lexical techniques in oppose to Plath, he begins with the first stanza being a dramatic, alliterative opener. The vehicles are “Closed like confessionals” and are “giving back none of the glances they absorb”; like a corpse. The alliterative statement “closed like confessionals “illustrates the Roman Catholic idea of confessing sins to a priest in a “closed” box. This also outlines the poems religious nature and demonstrates to us the religious idea of death which connotes it of being like a “closed” off box - a coffin. This also depicts the closed off nature of death and how once a person dies everything, they are sealed off from the world, an end to everything. Larkin uses enjambment to emphasize the disconnection between people and death throughout the poem. In the first two lines, the lack of punctuation ironically causes the reader to stop at the end of each line. This symbolises the separation between the ambulance, and the city it is travelling through, as well as the "glances" the ambulance takes in. In the fourth stanza, Larkin uses enjambment in five out of the six lines, demonstrating the isolation of death throughout society. Specifically in the last three lines and into the last stanza, Larkin reveals that what unites one another across the years, at last falls apart there (in the ambulance and at the hospital), while connecting all four of those lines. Vocabulary is also an element used by...
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