Study Guide

Toads Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

By Philip Larkin

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Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

Big plans? Hopes and dreams? We've all got 'em. Unfortunately, as the speaker in "Toads" discovers, things don't always work out the way we'd like or the way we plan. He wants to have a fulfilling life. He hopes for the Big Three: fame, fortune, and someone to share it all with. But instead he gets a bunch of toads. How unfair.

Questions About Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

  1. Do you feel like the speaker is unusual or typical in regards to his inability to realize his dreams?
  2. The speaker complains that he will never get "The fame and the girl and the money / All at one sitting." Do you think he's shooting too high? Shouldn't he just be happy with one or two out of three? Why or why not?
  3. Do any of the poem's structural or formal elements mirror the speaker's sense of dashed hopes and dreams? If so, how? If not, why not?

Chew on This

Sorry, but the speaker's realization that he will never achieve all he hoped and dreamed of is nothing new or particularly special. It is symptomatic of a common condition: being alive. Most people are, like this speaker, prone to disappointment.

"Toads" presents a problem of perspective. The speaker feels unfulfilled because he can't get everything he hopes for: fame, fortune, and love, all at once. (He doesn't ask for much, does he?) But the poem implies that he can have these things separately. Sometimes, like the poem's speaker, we are too stubborn to realize that we have in fact achieved our goals, just not exactly as we had envisioned we would.

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