Death in Leamington and Devonshire Street Essay

Published: 2021-09-03 18:10:13
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Do you agree with this assessment in the light of your reading of “Death in Leamington” and “Devonshire Street, W.1.”? Betjeman’s lexis in the poem “Death in Leamington” exemplifies only dark and decaying imagery, expressing death itself through powerful metaphors and thus exhibiting a sombre mood which is significant in its reflection of the death of the woman. Indeed, through his diction, Betjeman is able to conjure a world himself, which is put across quite carefully to the reader in its specific detail.
The poem “Devonshire Street, W.1.” is equally a construction of a world by carefully chosen detail. It is itself ridden with symbolism and literary contrast – what with the building being personified as “lofty”, thus an impersonal mood is brought about, which is symbolic of the age itself – and portrays a world of apparent negativity. The death of the woman in “Death in Leamington” is ironic in its presence to the Nurse. As she comes to wake the woman up, she realises that she is in fact dead: a crude and “lonely” happening, which provides greater emphasis to the “ev’ning” that the poem takes place in. Indeed, the statement “the light of the ev’ning star” is an antithesis in itself, with the very dichotomy between “light” and dark being portrayed here, thus adding to the sense of confusion that exists in “Leamington Spa”.
The “stucco is peeling” in stanza six, implying through such symbolism that there is a sense of decay, a symbolic death of both the woman and of an era, with this ambiguity only strengthening the pessimism throughout. Furthermore, as the “gas in the hall” is turned down, greater symbolism is created, as this has connotations of a turning down of life – of a “grey decay”. The very satire that exists in “Chintzy, chintzy cheeriness” is dark in its deeper meaning. The fact that a woman has died is anything but humorous and yet Betjeman includes such satire, perhaps to reflect upon a world in which we do not understand death for what it is – a passing of life – but something altogether lighter.
This would indeed give meaning as to why the nurse carries on with her business-like manner as she “tiptoe gently” away from the scene of death, with Betjeman providing greater meaning to our obliviousness as man and woman, and the way in which we do not appreciate perhaps all that we should, thus this woman’s life (who is alone in the frame of such eight quatrains), is dismissed without any attention being paid to her “stop” of “the heart” . Through Betjeman’s purposeful diction, a reflective world in itself is hence created, which is careful in its detail.
The poem “Devonshire Street, W.1.” uses language by Betjeman to construct a world in itself of carefully chosen detail. The door is “heavy” with a “wrought-iron screen”, which is in fact symbolic of a divide in life: a division of compassion and of emotionlessness, which cannot be reunited as this metaphorical divide is one of “wrought-iron”. The narrator repeats “No hope”, with this repetition providing emphasis to the negativity which seemingly permeates both “Death in Leamington” and “Devonshire Street, W.1.” Indeed, the adjectives “merciless”, “cold”, “silly”, “timidly” and “iron” all also contribute to the creation of a world that exists in the heart of London which is, again, oblivious of the needs and sorrow’s of others, thus a world by carefully chosen detail is in fact created by Betjeman as his lexis is greatly infused with symbolism of deeper meaning.

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