Tony Harrison: Poems

Harrison's "National Trust" and the Corruption of the Upper Classes 11th Grade

Published in The School of Eloquence in 1978, Tony Harrison’s “National Trust” is the embodiment of his frustrations at the British social-class system. Through this poem, he divulges how, after receiving a post-War opportunity for education, he was dislocated from his family. “National Trust” exposes his opinions regarding this vexed transformation, including his subjective comments on the celebration of the past. Harrison wrote “The School of Eloquence” as a weapon, illustrating the oppression of the undereducated and critiquing the upper classes. He demonstrates the quintessence of a conflicted society in the late 20th century and focuses on the class struggles of the past; after all, “National Trust” was composed as a corrupted, 16-lined, Meredithian sonnet, mirroring the corruption in the upper class.

Harrison shows his resentment at the upper class by critiquing it unambiguously in “The School of Eloquence.” This approach is demonstrated by how he depicts the founders of the National Trust; the ironically described “stout upholders of law and order” “borrowed a convict,” objectifying an entire social class and subverting ideas about personal dignity through commodification. Harrison is demonstrating the infinite greed of...

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