Critical Analysis of “Mr. Bleaney” by Philip Larkin
Food is not the only problem nowadays in this world. There was time when troubles were only related to food and gaining more and more territories for the kings. There is a lot of difference in ancient evils and today’s troubles. In those days, isolation was not a problem. In one way or the other, problems were social and political. In these days, everyone is living life of his own. Bigger problems are not social or political but individual. Every person has his own problems and difficulties. People talk less about the State but more about their own lives. Modern life is full of worries. Company can be found anywhere yet heart remains isolated. Loneliness is the major problem especially in developed countries. Humans are living life of machines; emotionless, bore and dull life. Art is fading day by day. Stupidity is at its peak. The poem “Mr. Bleaney” deals with to all these modern problems. It is about the troubles of an individual; it is the story of a person, who was living a dull life. It cannot be said that his life was miserable but it is absolutely true that his life was not creative. In fact, he was not living life; instead spending days of his life.
In start of the poem, speaker talks about the previous tenant of his room. He was living in “The Bodies” (boarding-room) and subsequently was removed. Further, condition of the room has been described. Room’s curtains show the lifestyle of previous tenant. Speaker says that curtains are worn-out, however, they are flowered. Detail of the curtains has also been given. They are shorter than the required length. From window, buildings, grass and rubbish can be seen. Speaker has been informed by the landlady that name of the previous tenant was Mr. Bleaney, who used to look at the garden from the window. Detail-description of the room has been mentioned. Some objects such as: a bulb, a bed, a chair and a door without hook have also been illustrated in the poem.
Before character analysis of Mr. Bleaney, something about his lifestyle has been mentioned by the poet. The speak, who is definitely the poet is describing detail of each and every character. Philip Larkin knows that a man’s nature and character can be judged by his mode of living and his habits. Though, starting lines of the poem, habits of Mr. Bleaney has not been depicted yet the curtains, bulb, door and bed shows that he was an irresponsible person, who did not concentrate on maintenance of his room. Perhaps, he was a poor fellow but he should have cared about his living style. Nevertheless, it is very much clear up till now that he was not interested in repairing things of his room. He might be just spending his days instead of living them; therefore, he was not interested in maintaining the room.
The speaker talks further and says that there is no space for books in the room. Now, he is also lying on the same bed, on which once Mr. Belaney lied. The speaker does not think this room as perfect place to stay. He finds a lot of inadequacies in the room yet he accepted it. He is smoking and putting ashes in saucer instead of ashtray, which belonged to landlady; it was gifted to her. While speaking further, the speaker creates a noisy image of the radio set, which was purchased by the landlady on the request of Mr. Bleaney. In order to save himself from the troublesome noise of radio, the speaker puts cotton-wools in his ears. Until now, the speaker has become aware with the habits and schedule of Mr. Bleaney. He preferred sauce to gravy, the speaker said.
These lines are somewhat ironical, the speaker does not like the room yet he is living therein. He criticizes the habits of Mr. Bleaney but also follows them. He also puts ashes in the saucer instead of ashtray as Mr. Bleaney used to do. The speaker has also noticed a very important thing viz. “no room for books or bags”. It seems that Mr. Bleaney was literally a tasteless person. He was not interested in reading books. Was radio enough for him to spend his time? He might be spending a busy life. There is a little similarity in Mr. Bleaney’s character and the speaker but sharp contrast between the two. Some habits of both of them resemble, whereas some do not. Mr. Bleaney was interested in listening radio not in books, whereas the speaker is interested in reading books. So far as the similarities are concerned, both used to smoking; both use saucer as ashtray. Thus, Mr. Bleaney’s character and speaker’s character have been put in juxtaposition.
Further light on the life of Mr. Bleaney has been spread. He loved to spend his holidays with his relatives at Frinton, whereas he used to enjoy Christmas with his sister at Stoke. His lucky number was four. The speaker is unsure about the fact that whether Mr. Bleaney ever considered this room as his house. Philip Larkin mentions the very important fact “That how we live measures our own nature”. Furthermore, whether Mr. Bleaney ever thought that he was living an ambitionless life.
These lines of the poem are very important. In fact, they summarize the whole poem. In a nutshell, Philip Larkin has presented the modern life. Mr. Bleaney was living a useless life. Modern life is also useless. A lot of people have no ambition in their lives. How many people nowadays can answer if they are asked “What is your ambition?”. The poet is very well aware about modern life. Mr. Bleaney was not interested in books. He had no ambition. He often spent his life with his sister and relatives. Mostly he did it in order to drive out his loneliness. Most of the time, he spent was in loneliness. His thinking was small. He was not broadminded person. His living style reveals.com his character. Every line of the poem is realistic and refers meaninglessness in life. Modern life is tasteless, dull and ambitionless. People are compelled to spend life of machines. Work, earn, eat, drink and sleep. It is the only purpose of life, which in the eyes of Philip Larkin, is not good enough. There is an artist in everyone which should be provoked. Art should be preferred. If one can do nothing he should take interest in reading books. Moreover, why do we feel loneliness in presence of people? Mr. Bleaney has never thought that this room is his home. He never thought that it his world.
In this poem, the poet creates sketch of a person named Mr. Bleaney. He has painted this character very accurately. While reading poem, we feel that we have met this person. It has also been said that Mr. Bleaney is no other than Philip Larkin because there are a lot of autobiographical elements in the poem. Nonetheless, the poem is the finest example of “character analyzing technique”. It consists quatrains with regular rhyme scheme. It is a successful dramatic monologue.