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Analysis of "Mr Bleaney" by Philip Larkin

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Analysis of "Mr Bleaney" by Philip Larkin

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  • November 11, 2006
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Write a critical appreciation of the poem making comment on the poetic devices used to create an atmosphere of existential despair.

The poem "Mr Bleaney" by Philip Larkin was written in 1955, when the Second World War was still in everybody's mind. It tells the story of a man (probably the poet himself) who rents a room and discovers by looking at the apartment the monotonous life of the person who used to live there Mr Bleaney. By the end of the poem, the man starts identifying himself to Bleaney and finally thinks that his life is not better than his. The atmosphere and the very unusual feeling given by the poem relate the emotions of the poet through an "every man" character: Mr Bleaney. In this essay, I will look at the techniques used by the author to produce this atmosphere of complete depression, by looking more particularly at the various poetic devices.

Firstly, the poem reflects the key themes of loneliness and the shallowness of human life through the characters and the thoughts of the poet. The description of Mr Bleaney's character really creates the atmosphere of existential despair. The name Mr Bleaney itself does not have any flavour and sounds monotonous with no strong syllables. This monotony is reinforced by the way the author describes Mr Bleaney and his room. Mr Bleaney is only renting the room suggesting he is quite poor and perhaps weak as renting a room has little status compared to being the owner. In addition, the author uses indifferent words like "they moved him" to refer to his death which shows that he is physically and emotionally dying, but that it does not have any importance. This is reinforced by the fact that in the 6th stanza it says, "But if he stood and watched the frigid wind Tousling the clouds..." meaning Mr Bleaney is like a ghost, perhaps already dead. Further more, Mr Bleaney is described as a man who does not care about his own comforts. The 'upright chair' and 'no hook behind the door' symbolises the fact that...