How do I write a compare and contrast essay on Phillip Larkin's poem "This be the Verse" and the play A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen?

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"This Be The Verse" by Philip Larkin contains the infamous first line "They f*** you up, your mum and dad." On the face of it, Larkin's entertaining squib does not seem to have much in common with Ibsen's A Doll's House . On closer inspection, however, a number of similarities...

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"This Be The Verse" by Philip Larkin contains the infamous first line "They f*** you up, your mum and dad." On the face of it, Larkin's entertaining squib does not seem to have much in common with Ibsen's A Doll's House. On closer inspection, however, a number of similarities emerge, not least in relation to the respective works' underlying themes. The overriding message of Larkin's poem details the way that negative character traits are handed down from generation to generation. If people are messed-up—to use a somewhat more polite term than the one Larkin uses—then it is something they have inherited from their parents, a product of nurture.

Nora Helmer in A Doll's House has also been nurtured poorly by her parents. They have brought her up in such a way that she is expected to fulfill the duties of a meek, submissive wife. As such, she remains in a state of arrested development well into adulthood, a state that is compounded by her marriage to Torvald, who treats her like a child. However, it is not deliberate on the part of Nora's parents or Torvald to treat her like this; they too were nurtured poorly, something they inherited from their parents. For as Larkin says in the poem:

They f*** you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. (Emphasis added.)

Larkin's advice, once we have recognized the existence of this unfortunate genetic inheritance, is as follows:

Get out as early as you can, And don’t have any kids yourself.

Nora has already had children, of course, but at the end of A Doll's House she does indeed get out, leaving her children and her husband behind. Better late than never, Larkin might say. Though his language is a good deal more crude and direct, it is less elevated than Ibsen's dramatic prose, his stark underlying message finds resonance in Nora's famous slamming of the door at the close of A Doll's House.

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