Transformations of Inner Self in the Poems of Plath and Rich - Literature Essay Example

Transformations of Inner Self in the Poems of Plath and Rich

Sylvia Plath and Adrienne Rich are among the best female literary writers in the history of American literature - Transformations of Inner Self in the Poems of Plath and Rich introduction. They have contributed a lot in realizing the great talent that rests on women of the contemporary times. Particularly, Plath’s poem, “Ariel” and Rich’s “Diving into the Wreck” provide readers with experiences of self transformation, promoting courage and transcendence of the human spirit.


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In Ariel, Plath depicts a process of human transformation and transcendence through a number of metaphors and symbols. Starting with the image of darkness and bewilderment, the author situates the persona in “substanceless blue” or empty space. She pictures the persona as Ariel, the lion goddess, who travels from darkness to light. After being acquainted with darkness, the persona faces fears. She uses symbolism in “Nigger-eye berries [that] cast dark Hooks” (10-11). As she compares her fears with berries, the author employs irony because berries are sweet and nice to eat, yet for her they represent fearsome aspects of her journey. The transformation begins with the mention of Godiva, the wife of Leofric, the Earl of Mercia, the former United Kingdom. It is said that the lady had a dispute with her husband over imposing of taxes, and the lady rode a horse naked to win the dispute over her husband. The presence of Godiva suggests courage of the persona, which later leads to her transcendence as her childlike fears disappear (“the child’s cry melts in the wall” 24-25), and she submits to light (“cauldron of morning” 31), like dew submitting to the sun.

Similarly, Rich’s “Diving into the Wreck” suggests human transformation. However, unlike Plath’s, the author does not specifically identify whether the persona is female or male so the readers take the persona as either male or female. In fact, the gender of the persona is not the issue in the poem unlike that in Plath’s. The poem talks about the diver’s experience, first looking for some treasures one can find out of a sunken ship. The persona declares having read the “myths” or presumably the stories related to the sunken ship. However, as s/he explores underneath, the persona finds more than treasure and recalls more than myths, and instead realizes human suffering, having seen the remnants of the victims. Seeing them, the persona realizes that what one finds there are not just treasures and remains, but people whose lives were not even paid importance “book of myths in which our names do not appear” (94-95).

The themes of human transformation and transcendence in the two poems make them necessary contributions to American literature by two of the world’s greatest female writers. The courage that both poems project, similar to what the other poems of the two authors depict, makes them ideal centerpieces in the collection of poems of the two writers.












Works Cited

Plath, Sylvia. “Ariel.” N.d. 10 July 2009 <>.

Rich, Adrienne. “Diving into the Wreck.” N.d. 10 July 2009 <>.

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