Philip larkin
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Philip Larkin. Toads. Theme. The theme of the poem is work. He is comparing work to a toad. He is jealous of the people who enjoy going to work, as he despises. The idea of work being a toad is a metaphor, and the title suggests this.

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Philip Larkin

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Philip larkin

Philip Larkin

Toads


Theme

Theme

  • The theme of the poem is work. He is comparing work to a toad. He is jealous of the people who enjoy going to work, as he despises. The idea of work being a toad is a metaphor, and the title suggests this.

  • The second half of the poem suggests that there is a second toad, which is like his conscience in his mind. He clearly has a very artistic side to him, which he wants to get rid of, but work circumstances obviously don’t allow him to do so. He possible wishes that he could give up his job and live the life of the poor people, as it doesn’t seem to be that bad when he describes their way of life.


Techniques

Techniques

  • Rhetorical Questions are asked in the first stanza. “why should I let the toad work, squat on my life?”. The result of this is that the reader is inclined to agree with what he is saying.

  • He uses a conversational tone in his writing: “They seem to like it”. “Stuff your pension”. It makes the reader feel involved in the poem, and lets them see how he feels about work, and his life.

  • His word choice is particularly effective when he is describing the poor peoples lifestyles. His word choice is very ordinary: “tinned sardines”, “eat windfalls”. It is also good se of imagery as gives the reader a clear idea of how these people live their lifes.


Main ideas

Main Ideas

  • The poet seems to wonder whether life would be better if he did not work. He tells us how poor people don’t have such a bad life: “They seem to like it”, “No one actually starves”. Although it is not actually convincing, because he tells us that these people eat apples from the ground, and “tinned-sardines”.

  • The last 3 stanzas show signs of repetition. “squats in me, too”. He is emphasising how work takes over his whole life, and how it feels like a massive weight on his life: “its hunkers are heavy as hard luck”. His artistic conscience in his head seems to be the second toad in his life. It takes over, and no matter how much he wants to leave his job, he cant. And this seems to be the reason why he cant get rid of his artistic side, it squats on his life and brings him down.


Philip larkin

Tone

  • The tone is very lame. “They seem to like it”, “no one actually starves”, however it seems fairly obvious to the reader that they don’t. He is trying to convince himself that life without work, a life of sardines and windfall apples would be ok. These two lines both seem unconvincing.

  • He is trying to convince himself to leave his job, but he cant because of the ‘second toad’ in his mind.

  • He doesn’t have the courage to say “stuff your pension” and leave his job. He wishes he could, but he is not brave enough to take that step and move on with his life.


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