Study Guide

Toads Dissatisfaction

By Philip Larkin

Dissatisfaction

In "Toads," it isn't too tough to tell that the speaker is dissatisfied with his life. He might not say the words, "I feel a great sense of dissatisfaction when I look at my life," but there are plenty of other clues letting us guess that's probably what he's feeling. (Perhaps the biggest clue is the fact that this is a poem by Larkin—his speakers are dissatisfied with something most of the time.)

Questions About Dissatisfaction

  1. What is the primary cause of the speaker's dissatisfaction? Do you think he's justified in feeling this way? Why or why not?
  2. Which line or word gives you the greatest sense of the speaker's dissatisfaction? Why?
  3. Is there anything about the poem's form, structure, or style that adds to the poem's sense of dissatisfaction? What is it and how does it express the feeling?

Chew on This

The speaker's sense of dissatisfaction is so profound because it comes from external as well as internal sources. If it were just one or the other he might have a shot at a fulfilling life, but as it stands, there's no hope. Yay.

Societal expectations are the primary source of the speaker's sense of dissatisfaction. If the speaker didn't have to spend "six days of the week" working to provide himself with basic necessities, he would be able to fill his life with more fulfilling pursuits. In other words: quit your day job, dude.

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