Thursday, September 16, 2010

Toad-al Downer

The entire subject matter of the poem "Toads" by Philip Larkin centered around concepts of work and social classes. The speaker was a poorer middle-class citizen who wished he was rich and could escape the constraints of the work force. Through figurative language, he made a comparison between what I consider "the man" and a toad. He also talked about his unhappiness with his situation. The speaker finds it unfair that he has to work for everything he has while the rich people have it easy in life and do not have to work hard for their lifestyles. The following lines in the second stanza prove his opinion on money and working:
"Six days of the week it soils

With its sickening poison -

Just for paying a few bills!

That’s out of proportion.
The word poison is what stuck out to me the most in that small passage. By equating money with poison, the speaker is showing how much he dislikes it. I suspect he dislikes the effects it creates more than he hates actual money itself, but nonetheless is was a powerful statement. In the context of the poem, it seems like the speaker is stuck in his predicament and cannot find a way out of his forced working lifestyle. He hints that he wishes he could say something to his boss, but that he can't afford the risk because it would mean losing his job and source of income. These thoughts come to life when he imagines what it would feel like to confront the 'toad' in his life: "Ah, were I courageous enough to shout, Stuff your pension! But I know, all too well, that’s the stuff that dreams are made on". This reminded me of what many people still do in present time. They talk with their friends and imagine scenarios of telling people what they actually think of them and act out what types of things they would say in the heat of the moment. Similarly to the speaker, they can never really say those things but it helps to be able to vent to someone. I took this poem as the speaker's way to vent about his frustration with society.

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