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Larkin and Portrayal of Women

In: English and Literature

Submitted By ellenmck
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“Larkin rarely presents women in a positive light”
In the light of this statement, compare the ways in which Larkin writes about women in his poems.
In many of Larkin’s poems, his presentation of women is often in a negative light. However, In Wild Oats, Broadcast and Talking in Bed it can be interpreted that Larkin portrays women in both a positive and negative light. For example in Wild Oats, Larkin seems to visually prefer the ‘bosomy rose’, however he goes out with the ‘friend in specs’, in Broadcast he describes his love for the woman compared with his love of music, and in Sunny Prestatyn he compares the vandalism of the poster girl with rape.
In Wild Oats it can be interpreted that Larkin does present women in a positive light, as he describes the woman as a ‘bosomy English rose’. Here, Larkin uses a ‘rose’ to symbolise the woman, suggesting that Larkin finds her exceedingly beautiful and attractive; portraying women in a positive light as he appreciates and recognises their beauty. However, a contrast is established between the derogatory choice of word ‘bosomy’ and ‘rose’, which implies Larkin has a sexualised view of women, and that he sees them as sexual objects, therefore negatively portraying women. Also, Larkin describes ‘the friend in specs’ as being someone he could talk to. This is a negative portrayal of women as it suggests that she is inferior to the ‘bosomy rose’, and it also suggests Larkin is misogynist as he’s only talking to the ‘friend in specs’ as he is in awe of the ‘bosomy rose’, and feels intimidated by her. Larkin deliberately uses enjambment to reinforce this misogynistic attitude after he says ‘But it was the friend he took out’, reflecting that he is detached from the ‘bosomy rose’ and perhaps detached from understanding women. However, it can be interpreted that Larkin prefers the ‘friend in specs’, as she is more intelligent...

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