Explore the ways in which Dickinson and Larkin explore the themes of marriage. Essay

Submitted By Sm0king_Dreams
Words: 2518
Pages: 11

Explore the ways in which Dickinson and Larkin express their views of marriage.

Both poets show their firm negative view on their opinions of love and marriage, though they both represent it in alternative ways. Phillip Larkin with his omniscient perspective on the lives of others and the belief that marriage is a façade for both parties involved, compared to Emily Dickinson’s believing that marriage is a force which restricts a woman. Larkin explores marriage with negative connotations in ‘An Arundel Tomb’ and ‘Self’s the Man’. In ‘An Arundel Tomb’ he portray the assumptions that people make of the Earl and Countess’s marriage and the reality of the lack of love within it. He does the same in ‘Self’s the Man’ with the apparent pressures put on men to support a women and reveal his sexist view of women though the explicit showing of woman mindlessly taking advantage of men. Similar to Larkin, Emily Dickinson expresses her negative opinion on marriage in ‘Because I Could Not Stop for Death’ and ‘She Rose to His Requirement’, expressing a woman’s loss of identity once married and the liabilities it causes. In ‘Because I Could Not Stop for Death’ (712) she inexplicitly create a link between death and marriage through the thought of a woman’s previous lifestyle dying to make marriage the first and only priority. In ‘She Rose to His Requirement’ (732) Dickinson create a contrast with the connotations of marriage, on the outside, it seems like something to pride oneself in but truly, it is a form of oppression for women.
In Larkin’s ‘An Arundel Tomb’ he suggests that the Countess and Earl’s marriage have just become the modern perception of the marriage being a symbol of platonic love and it does it reflect the people during their time alive.
Though the poem is seemingly sweet, Larkin ends it on a dark note by contrasting with the thought that this one snapshot of the couple may not in fact replicate how they actually were. ‘They hardly meant has come to be their final blazon’. The use of the adverb ‘hardly’ and noun ‘blazon’ and the use of the third person pronoun ‘they’, perhaps implies that Larkin’s perception is one that would have reflected that of the Countess and Earl if they were still alive. Insinuating to the reader that the Earl and Earless’s ‘final blazon’ is what Larkin implies it to be, a simple façade
Though ambiguous, Larkin view can be seen with two possibilities, that the tomb and their held hands were just the ‘sculptors sweet commission’ to keep the false appearance of their marriage with acquaintances and other onlookers or rather than that, he seems to take into consideration that Eleanor of Lancaster was the Arundel Earl’s second wife and that during medieval England, marriage was solely business based rather than romance based. He emphasises this with ‘They would not think to lie so long’. He expresses a morbid feel with the dual meaning of the noun ‘lie’ to present how the two cannot escape each other, cannot escape the image of marriage they were given and are now perceived as, linked and imprisoned within their false marriage forever or could instead refer to how the couple was living a life of lies or could even be representative of the lie or their religion, it was common in Christian burial services to have the Latin phrase ‘in sure and certain hope of resurrection to eternal life’. [Proposed book of Common Prayer CofE] putting that into consideration, ‘lie’ would represent the false hope put into the couple of living bliss when resurrected in their eternal life but instead they forever remain in their ‘stationary voyage’. Larkin expresses his view that not even love can allow you to escape death. /“One sees, with a sharp tender shock, His hand withdrawn, holding hers’. At first the reader is drawn into the detail of their positioning of the couple with their held hands. Larkin uses the antithesis ‘sharp tender’ and ‘shock’ as it shows a sense of Larkin’s shock of seeing the display of love