May it be her elegiac, disturbing poetry or her dramatic finale of life, Sylvia Plath is one of the most praised writers in the history of time. From the age of eight, Plath lived an unfortunate life, dealing with the death of her father, a failed marriage, and upholding the strict expectations of women held by society (Poets.org 1). “A Birthday Present”, written by Sylvia Plath, demonstrates an obvious representation of her emotions and attitude toward life. Other than being straight forward, Plath establishes her thoughts within her poetry through distinct structure, diction, and figurative language. Her techniques not only allowed readers to understand her despair, but convinced herself that suicide was more fulfilling than a piece of chocolate cake. Afterall, this poem was written just months before she passed.
Traditional poetry is formed by consistent rhyme and rhythm patterns that allow words to swiftly flow across a piece of paper. However; Plath’s structure within “A Birthday Present” is strictly free verse as shown with the lack of a rhyme scheme and the different lengths of stanzas throughout. This I find to be very ironic. Though free verse emphasizes specific ideas and words, her thoughts to compose literature in her own way mirrors the egocentric decision to take her own life. There are precise moments in the poem when Plath chooses to indent the second line in a stanza. For example, “They are like carbon monoxide” (A Birthday Present 2) is compared to a cloudy sky; indenting this line shifts a reader’s focus toward observing why carbon monoxide is significant to her life. After further research, it is understood why Plath indented this line as she committed suic...
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...thday Present” as a brilliant piece of literature considering that it was written to convince the poet herself to plan and take her own life. However, Plath’s intelligent use of structure, diction, and figurative language transformed her personal emotions into a work of art. Avoiding traditional poetry and using free verse not only fits Plath’s selfish personality, but allowed her to emphasize important thoughts within the poem. The diction used throughout the poem purposefully portrayed the nothingness left in her life. The idea of suicide sounds naturally insane, however Plath uses these skills to make it suddenly enticing. Specifically imagery, symbolism, and personification allowed readers to experience and imagine her sorrow for themselves. Although Plath may have finally accepted the “birthday present” she always longed for, her poems will never be forgotten.
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