His overpowering theme is of the dilution of ones self once having children. He reflected that being a parent weakened you as an individual, through such phrases as He has no time at all, which reflects the opinion that parents lose their life, and have to live through their children. However, he admits that he is more selfish than Arnold because his only demand is for himself, which could also relate to the concept of marriage, also mentioned in this poem.
This poem infers that children are a sacrifice of life but says that marriage couple are selfish in that they only marry for societys sake, he married a woman to stop her getting away, which suggests an indication of oppression of female individuality as well. However, Larkin then goes on to suggest an oppression of the husband; Arnold has no voice or opinion throughout the poem, although neither does the wife, who through not having a name is relegated to being an object rather than a person.
This indicates that the poem views marriage and parenthood as an oppression of freedom. Plath approaches parenthood more directly, with a poem composed about her son. In Youre, she not only sees the child, but the potential of it, through phrases such as high riser and feet to the stars. Although these excerpts could be taken literally, as she was pregnant with him at the time, I believe they refer to his future, and her hopes and dreams, as both phrases high riser and to the stars are metaphors for being able to do anything, to become as successful as possible.
Because of this, the poem could also be taken as a prayer or wish for this to happen, especially as Plath tried and failed herself. This concept links to Selfs the Man by Larkin, as he suggests parents attempt to live through their children. However, Plath does then say a clean slate, with your own face on, which suggests that no matter how much she might want to, parents can only guide, not mould their children. She finished the poem by declaring that she is her childs protector, snug as a bud and at home, but then wrapped up in yourself.
Through this, she is implying that children will never appreciate their parents as they are too self-obsessed, which is the only negative image in Youre, consequently implying that the benefits outweigh the downfalls, and that these problems are to be expected. The main difference between Youre and Selfs the man is that Larkin refers does not refer to the children by name, seeing them as non-entities, whereas Plath focuses only on them, perhaps because of the gender difference. However, the major parallel is that they both acknowledge that parents give up their lives for their children.
Take one Home by Larkin is one of the few poems he wrote that addresses children singularly. He suggests that children are fickle and toss aside what they become bored with, living toys¦ wears off. Although the explicit referral is to pets, Larkin is implying the same is applicable to parents, a sentiment echoed in Youre. However, a rare softer side appears in this poem, which indicates a sympathy and pity for things without mothers, no dam. This could link to his own close relationship with his mother and compassion for those without.
The Applicant was one of the rare times when Plath mentioned husbands in her poems, possibly because of her own estrangement with her own. The most notable metaphor in this poem is that of comparing choosing a wife to the buying of a new suit. This suggests that she sees parenthood not as a concept of two people in love but a unity of people designed to produce children. This poem links to Selfs the Man in that it does not truly believe in love, and again refers to the woman as an object to be bought, without an individuality, whose only purpose is to be a wife and mother, though such phrases as here is a hand¦
to do whatever you tell it (The Applicant) and the lack of voice in Selfs the Man. First Sight by Larkin is about a ewe with her lamb, but acts as a metaphor for mothers and their children. It, by comparing children to a lamb, sees them as vulnerable, but regardless of how the parent tries to protect them (wait beside the ewe), the offspring will have to suffer on their own, reflected through the quote wretched width of cold, which suggests the world in cruel and unfeeling.
The phrase earths immeasurable surprise can be linked with the colloquisim like a lamb to the slaughter. This could be interpreted as that Larkin feels it is pointless having children because of the hardship they have to suffer. Nick and the Candlestick by Plath, links to First Sight, through cold homicides which again reflects the feeling that a child is born into a cruel world, and whatever a parent does, it cannot protect indefinitely its child.
For example, in a piranha¦first communion, it refers to the first communion a parent gives its child to protect its religious future, but a piranha can still turn a child from it. Plath acknowledges that she has done what she can hung our cave with roses (to protect, as in a metaphor for the womb) but let the mercuric¦ drip. The mercuric is a reference to poison, which indicates that Plath views the world as a place that will slowly kill a person, through its evil and cruelty.
This is also reflected in the phrase The light burns blue, which in the metaphor of a miners cave, means that it is an indication of danger to come. The last line in the poem baby in the barn, is a religious reference, and means that the inevitability of harm and danger is present even to Jesus, the son of a God, a sentiment echoed in First Sight, where Larkin announces that it is too cruel to have a child, when the world is so harsh. Dockery and Son by Larkin seems at first glance to be a positive poem, but though the subtext Larkin implies different.
He quotes unhindered moon and the lawn spreads dazzlingly wide as references to himself, indicating the freedom he has to do anything he wants. In contrast, Dockery should be added to which is a sarcasm that ironically suggests that there is incompletion without a child. Larkin then goes on to imply that Dockery was blinkered by society, and that he only had a child for status, through these warp tight-shut doors¦ style, wherein he means the customs and rigid traditions of a society.
He than suggests even though Dockery has trying to be added to, that fathers are to be looked down on (a sons harsh patronage). The word patronage is to be taken as a condescending manner in this context, and as such, he implies that the son feels the father is a fool and will not do that same as him, although Larkin suggests son will, through life is first boredom, and then fear which indicates the son will have children to try an escape this loop. This links with Youre, through the suggestion that children will always be disdainful of their parents.
By making a mockery of Dockery, Larkin is using him and his son as symbols of his high status that nobody will ever patronise or criticise him. In conclusion, both Plath and Larkin explore ideas about parenthood both explicitly and implicitly in many of their poems. However, the only concept which they agree on is that of selfishness in children and their inability to understand the motives of their parents. Plath sees the world as a cruel place that will inevitably hurt her children, but it is worth the risk as they would have so much love and protection from their mother.
Larkin also see the world as an unforgiving domain but says that it would be unfair to bring children into it. Nevertheless, it is notable that Plath committed suicide before her children were old enough to take care of themselves, and Larkin never had children of his own or even close contact with children. Consequently, both Plath and Larkin were running parallel in their view, as they were only formulating ideas about older children, rather than from their own experience.