Searching for Peace in Tulips Throughout the poem Tulips by Sylvia Plath, the author seems desperately searching for peace and tranquility, and instead finds everything she despises, symbolized by the tulips she received as a get-well present. The hospital setting, in which she is nobody, provides a place where she can learn peacefulness, lying by myself quietly, as Plath explains in lines 3-4. She goes on to describe her room as very white and serene, and within the walls is a temporary escape from all the cares of the world outside, all the baggage she carries in relation to her family.
Then she receives the tulips, which contrast with the white so much that Plath says they hurt me in line 36. The passage continues in this vein, relating that they weigh her down in line 40, in a similar fashion as her family does. This is because the tulips make her aware of my heart in line 60, telling her that she is becoming healthy and will have to leave the hospital and again be weighed down by the obligations of the outside world.
The passage from lines 36-42 describe how painful this idea is to Plath. It is apparent that the very nature of the tulips in Sylia Plaths poem Tulips is offensive to her, particularly in the way that the flowers red clashes with the serenity with the white walls around her. However, Plath also personifies her enemy the tulips to show us how she feels about her gift in a way the reader can understand.
The personification of the flowers begins with line 37 where Plath tells us that Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe. This is only to set up the idea of the tulips being more than just inanimate. Her simile between the flowers and an awful baby in line 38 gives the reader more understanding into her otherwise insane hatred for a simple flower. The tulips break her peaceful state, like an awful baby would break the sleep of his or her parents by crying in the middle of the night. This is a reasonable comparison, especially in light of line 36, which shows how the painful contrast in color, really a contrast between peace and noise, actually hurts her. After bringing back the concept of the flowers hurting her in line 39, Their redness talks to my wound, from line 36 she makes another comparison. This time, between the baggage mentioned earlier in line 18 and the tulips, saying they weigh me down in line 40. Both of these objects seem to weigh her down, and in fact they both weight her down in the same way. The baggage of her family keeps her from being peaceful, and the tulips remind her that she is getting healthy in line 60, telling her that she will have to leave the tranquil environment of her hospital room. Thus, Plath shows us through many methods that she despises the tulips, not only because their very nature contrasts with the tranquil environment she has finally found, but also because they remind her that she cannot stay in the hospital room forever, and sooner or later shell be reunited with her baggage.
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