In “Five O’Clock Shadow” by Sir john Betjeman

In “Five O’Clock Shadow” by Sir john Betjeman, the author’s use of diction serves to produce a despondent and wretched tone that exhibits the speaker’s fear of departing life. The setting of the hospital is established as a “haze of thunder” which establishes its ominous nature for narration that is being told. The speaker’s sister is “safe in her sitting-room” which provides a positive feeling for the first time in the poem, however the presence of the alliteration of “s” represent a snake-like presence. This is further reinforced in the next line in which the speaker feels “betrayed”, a strong trait of a snake, by his loved ones, employing a reason for losing hope in his life. Not only his sister, but his “loads of (other) loving relations” he has, have already left him alone in his hospital bed with the mindset that they have done all they “can” to help him live. He seems to be following what his family has done, only doing what they “can” and not actively trying to pursue providing positivity to his life which causes him to become discouraged to live anymore. Also the fact that the “weight of bedclothes” has become “harder to bear” than any procedures done to him shows how his isolation in the hospital has caused more harm to him mentally. This loneliness that he has felt in his time in the ward is highlighted by the “anonymous croak” of the transistor, which in turn has forced upon a mindset to the speaker of depression and hopelessness. That “croak” also represents a ticking clock that counts down the time that he has left alive and is significant in finalizing the despairing mood that the speaker has expressed throughout the entirety of the poem.