Mr Bleaney

  • Created by: Emma04
  • Created on: 28-12-18 10:38


Philip Larkin's poem, 'Mr Bleaney', explores... It is about the narrator renting a room, where he hears from the landlady all about the previous owner -Mr Bleaney- and his habits and routines. The landlady talks about Mr Bleaney highly; however, we soon realise that his life is pretty boring and empty. Throughout the poem, we start to see similarities between Mr Bleaney and the narrator and we worry that the narrator is following the same path as Mr Bleaney and is more similar than he cares to wish.

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The poem starts abruptly with the landlady stating:

"This was Mr Bleaney's room"

The blunt statement implies that the narrator is only borrowing the room and will never belong there. The poem continues on this idea of not belonging when the landlady tells the narrator what happened to the previous owner:


They moved him"

The writer makes the reader feel like Mr Bleaney is not wanted anywhere and that he is more of an object as the word choice of "moved" suggests that he did not get a choice in the move. It also tells us that Mr. Bleaney does not really have any family or friends, as he can just get up and move so easily. This shows us that he lives a very isolated, lonely life.

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Throughout the poem, Larkin suggests that the room symbolises the two men's lives. He describes the rented room in great detail to emphasise the bleak nature of the two men's lives. For example:

                         "Flowered curtains, thin and frayed,

Fall to within five inches of the sill"

The word choice of "thin" and "frayed" clearly tells us that the room Mr Bleaney stayed in, and the room the narrator later happily rents, is sparsely and poorly furnished. This suggests that Mr Bleaney didn't care about his surroundings but also that he was unable to make improvements. The writer then goes on to list the contents of the little room:

"Bed, upright chair, sixty-watt bulb, no hook

Behind the door, no room for books or bags"

The list emphasises the lack of possessions Mr Bleaney had but also the lack of comfort items int the room as all he has is basic necessities. The repetition of "no" highlights the lack of space but also implies that Mr Bleaney does not have much of a social life or is very intelligent as those objects indicate that.

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The narrator follows the same actions that he pictures Mr Bleaney doing:

                                                        "I lie

Where Mr Bleaney lay, and stub my ****

on the same saucer-souvenir"

It tells us that the writer's life is just as alienated and empty as Mr Bleaney's life. The writer paints this bleak picture in our head to convey that the narrator and Mr Bleaney do not have anything else to do or anyone to meet. Larkin also says that the narrator is:

"Stuffing my ears with cotton-wool, to drown

the jabbering set he egged her on to buy"

This highlights the miserable, pointless nature of the narrator's life.

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The narrator states Mr Bleaney's habits and routines:

                            "what time he came down,

His preference for sauce to gravy"

The boring list emphasises the bleak, emptiness of Mr Bleaney's life. The writer continues describing Mr Bleaney's routines and tells the reader what he does for his holidays:

                                       "the Frinton folk

Who put him up for summer holidays,

And Christmas at his sister's house in Stoke"

The word choice of "put him up" suggests that the couple felt an obligation to give Mr Bleaney a room. This highlights how alienated he is from society but also shows how few people care about him.

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The poem takes on a more depressing tone near the end and we see the hopelessness and despair of the narrator and Mr Bleaney. The narrator is lying on the bed contemplating his life and the lack of success and worth in it while questioning if Mr Bleaney's life was the same:

                                  "no more to show

Than one hired box"

The word choice of "one" emphasises how few possessions he has. "Hired" implies that he has none or very little control over his life. The writer invites us to symbolise the box -which is cheap or temporary-to the narrator's and Mr Bleaney's life.

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