High Windows by Philip Larkin Analysis

Philip Larkin describes both sexual and religious freedoms within "High Windows." The poem first starts off with sexual freedom. As mentioned in class, I agree that the speaker is speaking about the children with a hint of sarcasm.

The choice of words adds to the hint of sarcasm that we can sense.

For example, the "f" word could have been replaced with "sweet love" or "sex." Because the "f" word has such a harsh connotation, we can only assume he was speaking about the kids with contempt.

If "sweet love" was used, we probably would have probably thought that the relationship between the kids was meaningful.

Also as mentioned in class, we can gather from the first segment of the poem that the speaker is probably middle age because he refers to the people who are having sex as "kids."

He refers to their sexual freedom as "paradise" as if to say "you don't know how good you guys have it now."

The kids in the poem are allowed to experience this sexual freedom due to birth control which was unavailable to the speaker when he was that age.

In the second segment of the poem, the speaker then wonders if the elders looked at him and said the same thing.

However, in his case, the elders say that he doesn't know how good he has it because he has religious freedom where there is "no God anymore" and a time when you do not have to "hide what you think of the priest."

The elders see this as desirable freedom because when they were his age, there was much more pressure put on religious practices.

However, in the poem "High Windows", we as the readers can see how these freedoms might not equal what they are cracked up to be.


At the end of the first stanza when he calls the so-called "this" a paradise, the reader questions what he means by "this."

Although many people may argue that a world full of sex without attachment may be pleasurable, it does not always come without consequences.

As mentioned in class, there is the probability of getting an STD or even still getting pregnant if the birth control is not used in the proper way it should.

With these possible consequences, this "paradise" may not be so much of a paradise.

In the second stanza, the narrator begins to talk about the "long slide to happiness endlessly."

When I first read this poem on my own, I viewed the long slide as something desirable that would lead to happiness.

Using the words "happy" and "endless" together provide a desirable picture in my head.

However, during the class discussion today, my opinion changed on how I viewed it.

I thought that it was interesting that someone brought up the fact that the slide was endless meaning that you couldn't get off if you ever wanted to.

This provides more of a feeling of entrapment rather than freedom knowing that you will be on the endless slide with no way off. The slide that once looked so appealing might not be as fun once you get on.

Larkin then switches to writing about religious freedom in the third and fourth stanzas. To many outsiders, it may seem like great freedom to not have to worry about pleasing a god or worrying about the afterlife.

To many, this would entail living life with complete freedom and doing whatever you please. However, I do not think this is true.

As mentioned in class, I agree with the fact that society still has standards. I also believe that humans were created with empathy.

Just because people aren't held accountable by a god doesn't mean that they will go murder other people. In my opinion, we were made to possess empathy.

It is interesting how Larkin finishes the fourth stanza talking about a life without God but then the fifth stanza talks about "high" windows.

I think these high windows symbolize the windows that are found in churches. Not only that, but the fact that the window is high means symbolizes the closeness to God.

 Many people look up to the sky when they speak to God, so the closer to the sky, the closer to God. This continues on to the next line.

The "sun" I think represents Jesus Christ. Anything that goes past Jesus or the "sun-comprehending glass" will take you nowhere.

Although this world is endless, it will ultimately bring you nothing if you go past Jesus.
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