Key Themes in 'the Whitsun Weddings'

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Analyse the Whitsun Weddings in relation to the key themes. Support your analysis with reference to Joyce, (Dubliners).

There are six key themes shown in Larkin's The Whitsun Weddings, these are journeys, relationships, repressed emotions, England – town/country, disappointment and a metaphor for. Many of these themes can also be seen in Joyce's Dubliners.

The most striking theme is journeys, as the whole poem is about what the narrator sees from his train carriage whilst journeying between Lincolnshire and London. His entire journey is a metaphor for how he feels he is getting older, “being in a hurry gone” suggests that Larkin is slowly drifting through life with no purpose, all the time getting older. The first stanza is open to different perspectives, there is a lexical field of happy images or unhappy images depending on how different people feel about it. Being in a “three-quarters-empty train” would be nice for some people yet not so for others, Larkin was probably happy with it due to his shyness and detachment from the world. The different perspectives can be seen in how the train “ran behind the backs of houses”, Larkin is seeing houses within the city from a different side, instead of the street face he is seeing the hidden private back garden. This could be viewed as being intrusive, as can be seen in 'Araby', where the boys ran through “dark muddy lanes” and encountered “rough tribes”.

The second stanza continues his journey, but alternates between positive images and negative, unappealing images. This doesn't let the reader draw a conclusion on the atmosphere of the poem, even though the title appears to be cheerful. His journey takes him through “wide farms” and “short shadowed cattle” but then as he enters a city it becomes “ industrial froth” and “acres of dismantled cars”. There is a quick flash of beauty occasionally, “a hot house flashed uniquely”, showing an inaccessible glimpse of something exotic growing in the green house. This...
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