Imagery, language, structure and tone
Many detect in some of the Ariel poems Plash’s dark leggy, setting the Stage for her own self-slaughter since she died two months after completing them, dramatically and irrefutably by her own hand - Imagery, language, structure and tone introduction. An elegy can be described as a lament for someone deceased or permanently lost. In earlier centuries, many poets explored the elegy as a specific literary form, and although Plash’s poetry does not seem too akin to this genre at first glance, there are many poignant similarities. “Daddy,” “Lady Lazarus,” and “Ariel” outline her view of death as a liberating force by means of imagery, language, structure, and tone.
Sylvia Plate lived a very mysterious, interesting life, one that shines through in her writing. During a time period where women were expected to subdue to a patriarchal society, Plate was determined to blaze her own path in poetry with her strong will and innovative, feminist writing. Plate was born in 1932 in Massachusetts to middle class parents: German immigrant Otto Plate, and Aurelia Cobber. Beneath the surface of her seeming perfection were some grave distinction duties, some which probably were caused by the early death of her father.
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The biography of Sylvia Plate states: “Some of her most vivid poems, including the well-known ‘Daddy,’ concern her troubled relationship with her authoritarian father and her feelings of betrayal when he died” (Gale Literary Database 3). It was not until her undergraduate years that Plate began to suffer the symptoms of severe depression that would ultimately lead to her death. In 1953, during the summer after her junior year in college, Sylvia made her first attempt at suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills. After a period of recovery, which involved electroshock and psychotherapy, she again pursued academic and literary success.
In 1956 she married Ted Hughes, an English poet, and they settled for a brief time in an English country village; however less than TTY. ‘0 years after the birth of their first child the marriage disintegrated. In 1 962 her marriage ended and left Plate with nothing but two children, but “after an intense burst of creativity that produced the poems in Ariel, she committed suicide by inhaling gas from a kitchen oven” (Gale Literary Database 4). Plash’s works are read by critics as a new style of poetry during the time, but her work can be debatable read as confessional as well.
This assertion can be purported through: “Intensely autobiographical, Plash’s poems explore her own mental anguish, her troubled marriage to fellow poet Ted Hughes, her unresolved conflicts with her parents, and her own vision of herself’ (Gale Literary Database 3). Obtaining an understanding of her life and ensuing psychological state, allows readers to appreciate her vivid images of disruption and dislocation. Plash’s literary techniques embark her audience on a captivating journey and elements of her mental illness are manifested in her poems.
The poem “Daddy” reads like a confessional elegy about Plash’s grief and anger at the loss of her father. “Daddy”‘ describes the speaker’s confused identity and resentment with her dead father whom she wishes to kill him due to his relationship to “Nazi” and “Fascist” system. Nazis are used as a symbol of male authors¶y’ and its power on the society and women as a vulnerable part of the community. Its depiction of several aspects of the father and its extension to other men such as the husband can be related to the poet’s personal experiences.
The lines “In which I have lived like a foot/For thirty years, poor and white,/Barely daring to breathe or Cacao” refer to Plash’s fear while living with her father (Plate 3-5). It is known he had a strict personality so it only makes sense to say that she would be scared to breathe around him, for fear of possibly stepping out of place. Plate uses the Jews as a metaphor for herself and her father being the Germans that she is scared of. She says that he had already killed himself before she had time to kill him, which refers to him being extremely sick and not seeking medical attention.
The hatred that she shows towards the Germans in this poem is a metaphor for her hatred towards her father and how he just let the illness kill him. Had he gotten medical attention earlier he would still be around for Sylvia. When Plate found out about her fathers death she said that she would never speak to God again, which can be referenced in the lines, “You died before I had time?/Marble-heavy, a bag full of God” (Plate 7-8). In those lines she is saying that he died too soon, and used the “bag full of God” as a way to lay blame on God for taking her father away from her (Plate 8).
There is also the use of Plate saying “I thought every German was you” and how it refers to her husband, Ted Hughes (Plate 29). He left her six years into their marriage for another woman, and claimed that he wanted to leave her earlier. Plash’s father also left her early in her life so the resemblance between the two is strongly there. As mentioned earlier, she sees her father as a German, and Ted too. Not only does Plate say that there is a resemblance between the two men, but she says “l made a model of you,/A man in black with a Mainframe look/And a love of the rack and the screw/And I said I do, do” (Plate 64-67).
These lines refer to Plate marrying Ted as she sees in him what she sees, and may have missed, in her father. “At twenty I tried to die/And get ace, back, back to you” is a direct reference to Plash’s attempt at suicide in 1953 (Plate 58-59). She continues on with “But they pulled me out of the sack,/And they stuck me together with glue” as a further reference to her suicide when she was found in the crawl space under the porch and then admitted into the hospital, and later therapy.
Plate critic, Johan Rumanian, addresses Plash’s usage of references to her father in his essay ‘”Daddy, I Have Had to Kill You’: Plate, Rage, and the Modern Elegy. ” Rumanian states that Plash’s poetry has “made a major contribution to the development of the odder elegy,” where her work is, in fact, an elegy, a poem of lament or praise for the dead, but Plate reinvents the elegy by providing anger in her writing: “her enlargement of the elegy’s affective parameters beyond the traditional pathos, love, reverence, and competitive camaraderie” (Rumanian 1142-1143).
If Plash’s writings are elegies, then her writings are about people in her life, thus making her work confessional by writing about her feelings for the deceased. Plash’s poem “Lady Lazarus” gives readers an entrance into both her psychological condition and world. Lady Lazarus” is done in a relatively sarcastic monologue, by a woman who is making a timeline of her life, according to her failed suicide attempts. Readers follow her attempts, and become increasingly uncomfortable. She is almost mocking her own suicide attempts, by comparing them to a sacrificial ritual show.
The speaker in the poem wants to be in command of her circumstances, and is unable to. Since she can not change the situation, she seeks to arouse a specific response from those around her. She does this by putting herself on exhibit and bragging about her self-destructive behavior. Readers are made aware of the separation she feels from the rest of society through: “For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge,’ For the hearing of my heart?I It really goes” (Plate 58-60). She has put herself on stage and society is a “peanut-crunching crowd” (Plate 26).
They want an upfront and close seat, to the show of her destruction. She describes her body parts, as if she were an auctioneer trying to sell a famous art piece; “These are my hands/ My knees” (Plate 31-32). The separation of self and body also alludes to her psychological condition. They have become prepare from her, she has lost control. Her physical self is always on an examination table, being poked and prodded. She becomes a spectacle, and ridicules her spectators by saying; “YOU poke and stir. ‘ Flesh, bone, there is nothing there?I’ (Plate 74-75).
She is inviting them to continue and examine her, knowing that they cannot possibly understand the hurt that she is experiencing. No test or procedure can successfully alleviate the pain that her mental illness has brought. She insinuates that her life was doomed for torment. Utilizing holocaust images makes readers feel implicated in the memo’s straightforward assignment and metamorphosing of the speaker in her role as object and performer, and contingently are made to feel uncomfortable about their similar easy assimilation of the imagery of the suffering of the Jews that the speaker uses.
She uses this related imagery in her poem “Daddy” as well. Plate employs hyperbole’s when referring to her and her suicide attempts. Like a cat, she has “nine times to die” and she is a “walking miracle” (Plate 21 , 4). Such language adds to the shock value that the poem delivers, while erecting severance between the poet and the speaker of he poem. As in “Daddy,” the persona strips herself before the reader, and all the time utilizing a cool or slang idiom in order to disguise feeling. The final stanza is the speaker trying to convince herself that she can be triumphant Over the horrible forces that seek to bring her down.
Ironically, both the victim and the victimizer are one in the same. She encompasses both of those roles herself. It is ultimately a battle for her sanity and mental stability. In the end, it appears that she will succeed in her battle, however she ultimately took her own life and committed suicide. Plash’s summoning of her bootlessness in “Lady Lazarus” implies a speaker without a body and this disembodied utterance suggests the elegy of a dead author. Although “Ariel” is a poem about a life-changing, transformation horseback ride, it is not a sunny poem filled with rainbows and dreams of the future.
It is incredibly dark, and it is more than a little morbid. “Ariel” is haunted by death throughout, and it even conceives as the transformation at the end of the poem as a kind of suicide note. The poem begins in a dark moment of stasis. Everything is still; nothing is moving or even breathing in these first moments. Even the berries that Ariel passes are painted with dark words?they’re described as “black sweet blood mouthfuls” (Plate 13). Lines 18-20: The speaker says that she “unpeel(s)” (Plate 20).
She strips away “dead hands, dead stringiness” (Plate 21). It is a moment of transformation, but it is marked with morbid words. Then the speaker imagines herself as a suicidal arrow, heading toward the red sun. To treat “Ariel” as a confessional poem is to suggest that its actual importance lies in the horse- ride taken by its author, in the author’s psychological problems, or in its position within the bibliographical development of the author. None of these issues are as significant as the animistic and thematic development rendered by the poem itself.
In its account Of the ritual journey to the center Of life and death, Plate perfects her methods of leaping from image to image in order to represent mental process. The readers see, hear, touch and taste the process of disintegration: the horse emerging from the darkness of the morning, the sun beginning to rise as the horse, Ariel, rushes uncontrollably across the countryside, the rider trying to catch the brown neck but instead “tasting” the blackberries on the did of the road. Then all the rider’s perceptions are thrown together: the horse’s body and the rider’s merge.
She hears her own cry as if it were that of a child and flies towards the burning such that has now risen. In this transformed state, the speaker is speeding toward death. This poem as well as “Daddy,” and “Lady Lazarus” reveals her unstable mental state which can be connected to her self-destruction: “The source of Plash’s suicidal impulses is her need to achieve perfection, which she identifies with the concept of purity’ (Gentry 70). In Plash’s poetry each character attempts to redefine resell in contrast to societal stereotypes and when she cannot do that, ending her life seems like the only answer.
Sylvia Plath: Research Paper Essay
Sylvia Plath’s life story could be considered tragic as she was monopolized by a severe depression yet expressed her sorrows through enlightening words in her many poems - Sylvia Plath: Research Paper Essay introduction. The death of her father when she was only eight years old commenced her lifelong despondency and insecurities. In the poem “Daddy”, she speaks of how she never fully understood him and blames him for the emptiness she feels without a father. As time moved on, Plath discovered her writing talent while excelling in school (Harmon).
Although a story of hers was welcomed by Seventeen Magazine her senior year of high school and she received two scholarships to attend Smith College in Massachusetts and was accepted to notable internships, Plath was never completely satisfied with herself. She felt as though there was always something she needed to prove to the world. Suffering a severe breakdown after her junior year at Smith in 1953, Plath attempted suicide for the first time as disappointments outweighed her many achievements (McCann).
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Recovering from electroconvulsive shock therapy, Plath graduated from Smith College and proceeded to study at Cambridge University in England. There she published her first collection of work called The Colossus and Other Poems. Soon after, she began her first ambiguously autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. Unfortunately, it was not as successful as she and many others had hoped at the time. But Plath came back by writing a radio play, Three Women: A Monologue for Three Voices and her so-called October poems.
These literary pieces unleashed the vexation she felt from expectations others had for her (Harmon)(Gilbert). At Cambridge University, Plath met and secretly married Ted Hughes, an English poet. They both worked as college professors for a time to pay the bills but focused much energy on writing poetry books. After moving around England and the United States, Plath gave birth to a daughter, Frieda, and later to a son, Nicholas. Stressed from work, parenthood, and her marriage, Hughes and Plath separated in 1962 after a short union of only six years.
She moved away to London with her two children to live and work in the former house of W. B. Yeats, a famous Irish poet. Feeling betrayed yet again by a man, Sylvia Plath took her life by gas inhalation on February 11, 1962 at the age of thirty (McCann). Although she had a very unhappy life, she achieved much by composing over 120 fascinating poems. Plath’s writing has been praised by many because of its “surprising metaphors and often grotesque humor” and its “frank anger over social expectations of women” (Harmon).
Imitators of her sensational work have come about addressing similar experiences with nervous breakdowns, sexual embarrassments, and suicide attempts. The Bell Jar, specifically, is remembered for the protagonist, Esther Greenwood, an unstable and hypersensitive woman that encounters an antagonistic world she disagrees with. Esther’s acute personality and psychological discomfort matches that of Plath (McCann). Much of her poetry was published posthumously including her Collected Poems which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1982.
In all, Plath’s widespread feminist poems divulged her hatred of shallow men that led to her separation from society and to her downfall. Her adventurous use of bold metaphors and stunning imagery have given her the title of one of the most important American poets (Gilbert). Much of Sylvia Plath’s lifelong self hatred and depression was the result of her damaging relationship with her father. Reoccurring subjects that appear in many of her works are German Nazis and the Holocaust. “She still suffers both the stifling authority of her father and the pain of his early death” (Dunn).
Plath compares her connection to her father as if she were a Jewish victim in the Holocaust. “Aryan eye bright blue / so black no sky / my pretty red heart in two / a man in black / a stake in your fat black heart” (Plath). She claims they are so different and that he is so domineering that his premature death affects her for the rest of her life as she is not able to resolve the conflict. In the poem “Lady Lazarus”, Plath speaks again of her distrust of men. It is also a biblical reference to Lazarus in a negative way as he is referred to as a Nazi, similar to her comparison to her father.
The need to prove her own sexuality and that of all women in society is common in Plath’s feminist writing. “But the poet addresses the same societal forces that direct this practice, forces intent on silencing a woman’s ability to articulate her sexual nature” (Stricker). She believes it is unfair that women cannot express their sexuality without being judged in society and she makes out to change that. “Here the poet refers to the thumb directly as a sexual being. the ‘dirty girl’ of many parents’ nightmares is the daughter who is promiscuous, or maybe a girl-child who simply enjoys sex” (Stricker).
Also pertaining to women, she constantly discusses how men assume authority in life and she seeks to change this with her words from the poem “Lady Lazarus”. “Out of the ash / I rise with my red hair / and I eat men like air” (Plath). In “Never Try to Trick Me With a Kiss”, a pessimistic Plath is utterly disgusted with men as she is finished with being pushed around. Towards the end of her life, she reclaims her voice and the voice of all women with her empowering words. As Sylvia Plath was depressed for the majority of her life, death and suicide permeate her poems. Plath wrote about taboo subjects such as depression, mental and emotional instability, and familial and domestic problems” (Goodspeed-Chadwick). Darkness and pain accompany these gloomy matters. “This theme of science gone awry returns when the post-suicidal speaker remember recovering from her suicide attempt: ‘But they pulled me out of the sack, / And they stuck me together with glue. ’” She speaks so lightly of this as if it were a common occasion to have to recover from a suicide attempt.
Without this though, her work may not be as magnificently fresh and wonderful as “the whole process of dying and being brought back to life intensifies her art” (Collins). It is a gift that she is able and willing to express her sentiments in these poems to share with the rest of the world. Plath’s attitude and outlook on life is rather bleak but her writing helps her become more acquainted with herself. “This moment of looking back on her life, however, is also a moment of self-awareness” (Dunn). As it is so important to her, desperation from her relationship from her father is traumatic for her, even at the age of thirty.
Her work eventually allows her to somewhat accept herself. “So through her final masterpiece, she becomes her own god” (Collins). Yet even though Plath writes of such dark material, her tone is rather playful and affectionate. “Figuratively, the mind of the poet has been plumbed to bring light feelings of anger, fear, and guilt surrounding sexuality” (Stricker). “What a thrill —- / My thumb instead of an onion. / The top quite gone / Except for a sort of hinge of skin” (Plath). These lines from her poem “Cut” are quite sarcastic and very light in tone.
In all, Plath speaks pretty darkly of life and of her dreams but in a way that makes them sound much less serious than they actually are. Plath uses a variety of literary techniques when styling her poetry. From metaphors to an array of rhyme schemes, she carefully chooses each line to portray her feelings. Imagery in her poems brings about visions in the mind. “The poet uses Holocaust imagery and references to magnify the controller/controlled relationship” (Collins). For example, “I have always been scared of you, / With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo. / And your neat mustache / And your Aryan eye, bright blue. Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You–” (Plath). Other images of blood and gore appear. “Off-balance, the guests do not know whether to laugh or scream, The arrival of blood to the wound relieves the tension with a luxurious, sensual image: ‘Then that red plush’” (Stricker). The cut represents something physical and emotional. Lastly of imagery, her description of her reflection in the mirror as a “terrible fish” is awfully vivid. (Richardson) “In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman / Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish” (Plath).
She is terrified of growing old, losing her sexual nature, and becoming this “terrible fish” she speaks of. Her insecurities about age are main reasons for her suicidal thoughts. In her poetry, she compares these thoughts to images that other readers can relate to and can understand as deeply as she understands her feelings. Another style of Plath’s writing includes similes and metaphors. These create a symbol for the reader to understand the poet’s sentiments better. “The Holocaust is used as an extended metaphor to connote the extensive victimization endured by the ‘I’ of the poem” (Goodspeed-Chadwick).
Once again, the Holocaust is used a a metaphor to her detrimental relationship with her father. There is a relevant metaphor used in the “dirty girl” from the poem “Cut”. It connects to the unfairness of society as women are thought of as immoral because of their sex. Many random similes are places throughout her work. “It will ping like a Chinese chime, / Pawing like paradeground horses” (Plath). Major themes discussed in Sylvia Plath’s writing are anger and the Holocaust, death and suicide, feminism, violence, and psychological release.
It seems that she writes these poems for her own good without the intention of reaching out to others as much as she did. “Each is a release in the the self, into emotional and psychological depths either cultivated by or thrust upon her” (Richardson). Dunn agrees: “This tension between resentment and sadness forms the context for the poem’s main theme: the speaker’s journey though horror and rage to self-individuation. ” The poem “Ariel” brought about great feminist themes because of its “denunciation of patriarchal power, brutality, and violence” (Goodspeed-Chadwick).
For example, “The dew that flies / Suicidal, at one with the drive / Into the red / Eye, the caldron of morning” (Plath). Violence mixes with nostalgia in many of her poems. In all, Plath’s themes are obvious and relevant throughout all of her works and contribute a great deal to her success. Sylvia Plath takes advantage of her colorful vocabulary and exquisite sense of metaphors and similes in her poems. In the poem, A Better Resurrection, she uses many literary techniques to show the reader what she feels and how strongly she feels the way she does.
This piece of work outlines her insecurities while she doubts and pities herself as if she has done something terribly wrong in her life. In line two, she describes her heart using a simile: “My heart within me like a stone”. Along with the imagery of a hard stone where the heart should be that goes along with this line, Plath emphasizes that he heart doesn’t beat normally or like most other people’s. She has sinned in her life which leads to self pity and lack of liveliness. Plath uses one more simile in this poem on line seven: “My life is like the falling leaf;”.
This comes off as if she thinks of her life as the leaf that has just fallen off of a thriving, blooming tree. The leaf is slowly drifting down to its fate just like how her life is steadily losing its animation. Plath’s negative personality comes through in this work. Her insecurities shine through right off the bat in line one where the repetition of “I have no” is repeated several times: “I have no wit, I have no words, no tears;”. It is almost as if she has lost all humanity. She cannot reason, she cannot speak, and she cannot cry.
Her literary technique of repetition shows the reader and emphasizes that she is uncertain about her abilities. It is an indication that she may never be satisfied with herself again. In the final line of the poem, she tells Jesus to quicken her time in the world: “O Jesus, quicken me. ”. The meaning of the word “quicken” is also to revive life to someone. Perhaps Plath is unsure if she would rather hasten her time living or be rejuvenated as she was many years ago. Alliteration forces certain letters, words, or phrases in a poem to stand out.
In Plath’s case, she purposely places the letter “L” multiple times in one line: “Look right, look left, I dwell alone;”. Without these multiplicities, the line may not have stood out and would have been overlooked. But it is important in understanding the context of the poem. She feels that she cannot be pleased with her life because she feels alone. She doesn’t understand life and feels that she is the only one who experiences the same sentiments. Lastly, Plath has excellent rhyme schemes in the majority of her poems. They are perfectly constructed to allow the poem to be read easily but without being trite.
The rhyme scheme of A Better Resurrection is ABABCDCD. Sylvia Plath courageously expresses her feelings thoroughly in over 150 poems through her life struggle. Although the end of her life was rather tragic, her words have given a new meaning of life to a countless number of women and men who are inspired by her proud and daring personality that shines through her poems. Using carefully chosen words to get her message across to her readers has led to impressive successes in her lifetime and posthumously. Remembered by many, Sylvia Plath’s writing has been and will be adored by the world of literature for generations to come.