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Sylvia Plath Essays

The poetry of Sylvia Plath is intense and quite disturbing. Discuss I agree with the statement that Sylvia Plath’s poems are filled with intense and disturbing thoughts. Plath’s poetry is intense, deeply personal and quite disturbing. Plath has a dark mind filled with doubts and demons of all shapes and sizes which provides rich imagery to draw from. The best poems to describe the disturbing experience are ‘Child’, ’Black Rook in Rainy Weather’, ‘Morning Song’, ’Mirror’ and ’The Times are Tidy’. The poem ‘Child’ is exceptionally disturbing.
This poem is very personal and although it is primarily a happy poem about her child there is an intense underlying sadness and emptiness. In this personal poem it is evident she loves her child very much and this is what makes it even more haunting and disturbing because she is so unstable and in a state of self-destruction “Your eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing”. This symbolises the mother’s anguish. Her anguish is intensified by her inability to give her child what she feels the child deserves. ‘I want to fill it with colour and ducks’, Plath wants to fill her child’s life with only beautiful things.
Her failure to fill the child’s world with joy adds to her gloom, ‘ceiling without a star’. Plath is without hope as stars bring light but she only sees darkness. The repetition of broad vowels such as “dark” “troublous” and “star” create the gloomy atmosphere that I believe dominates this poem. The reader can just sense the pain and disappointment, feelings of failure and despair that the poet must be experiencing. Another poem that is disturbing is ‘Black Rook in Rainy Weather’. The poem begins on a dull, bitter tone, ‘Hunches a wet black rook’. This introduction gives the reader an impression of the strong depression that is to come.
Plath is without vision, without the inspiration to write and she fears ‘total neutrality’. Plath is in a state of desperation, she describes her life as a “season of fatigue”. She is extremely afraid that without moments of vision and the reassurance of her creativity, life and identity will be intolerable. She is also in agony as she is waiting for a splash of inspiration ‘Although I admit, I desire, Occasionally, some backtalk’. Her life is empty as she perceives it, to the extent that the most banal things may serve inspiration to her tormented mind.
The dark weather is a metaphor for her deep thoughts and feeling of failure. The poem is filled with pain and fear of Plath losing all motivation. The rain and the ‘black’ bird really show the negative atmosphere throughout the poem. Desperation and disturbing images are seen in ‘Morning Song’. The arrival of the baby brings much negativity to the poem. Plath describes her baby as a new statue, thus describing a work of art completely unique. However Plath may also be talking about the statue-like still child from the miscarriage.
The word nakedness is used here to show the baby’s vulnerability, as the baby will need constant care and protection. The following lines display Plath’s uneasiness with vulnerability. The nakedness of the child shadows the safety of the adults, ‘we stand round blankly as walls’ also displays the helplessness and insignificance of the adults present, Plath included. The feeling of distance is further developed through an image: “I’m not more your mother than the cloud that distils as mirror to reflect its own slow effacement at the wind’s hoard. Paradoxically, Plath focuses on her own feelings of the lack of attention to herself: the cloud is the mother, who gives birth to a puddle – the baby, and the baby is similar to the mother, and therefore, her reflection. I find this disturbing and intense as she does not feel like a mother to her own child. Another intense and disturbing poem is ‘Mirror’. Plath suggests many fears and insecurities: the fear of time and old age; the fear of annihilation; the fear of entrapment and alienation; and the fear of losing central. The world in the poem is a bleak and unloving one.
The mirror is brutally honest as it tells Sylvia ‘each morning’ that she is becoming old. The perceiving and recording intelligence is cold and inhuman. It gives nothing creative, warm or assuring to the woman. ‘She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands’, this shows that Sylvia is becoming frustrated and even more depressed by her ageing face. She now sees herself as an ugly old woman like a ‘terrible fish’. A mirror never lies, but Plath cannot find solace in what she sees. She fears herself as she sees her past and youth before her. In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman rises towards her day after day’. The image of the lake in the second stanza is striking, ‘Searching for my reaches’. The lake represents the dark and fearful inner life. She realises that there is a hidden depth behind what the mirror reflects which adds the intense atmosphere of the poem. Sylvia Plath is alone and has no one else to turn to, except for the ‘candles or the moon’. Plath also called candles and the moon, both symbols of love and light. “Liars”: they both cast a shadow.
This disturbing, empty thought clearly shows her tormented mind. The cold tone of the poem is reflected in the carefully phrased statements and the harsh ‘k’ sounds of the first stanza, ‘unmisted’ by love or dislike. Over all it is disturbing poem with negative and intense vibes throughout. The last poem I am going to discuss is ‘The Times are Tidy’. Sylvia is looking to the past as she hates modern life. ‘In the province of a stuck record’, this suggestion is that the present is an un-heroic age with little opportunity for adventure or valour.
To me this shows disturbing signs of depression as she is negative and it seems to me that she refuses to move into the future. This is no career we are told. The word ‘career’ suggests the difference between the heroic age of the past and the career-minded world of the late 1950’s. Plath is nostalgic as remembers the old day when she seemed to be happy. The ‘but’ Sylvia uses is a word of regret. She is sad that such times have passed. The mention of witches is disturbing to me. Magic and mystery seem to have died with her, ‘The last crone got burnt up more than eight decades back’.
This is another statement that we get from Sylvia which shows that she thinks that adventure has died. Overall, Sylvia’s poetry consists of intense and disturbing images. She is honest and her work is full of deep thoughts. Each of her poems have some aspect of negativity, which makes her poetry to be disturbing. Therefore, with her ruthless verity, it is obvious that Plath’s personal poems project her life in an intense and disturbing way because in the end, this magnificent, poet could see nothing to live for.

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