Essay Analysis Of ' Tulips ' And ' A Birthday Present ' By Sylvia Plath

Essay Analysis Of ' Tulips ' And ' A Birthday Present ' By Sylvia Plath

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Within “Tulips” and “A Birthday Present”, Sylvia Plath explores the critical decision of choosing between life and death. Through her inclusion of rhetorical devices, the personification of common-day objects symbolize the return to existence and biblical allusions mock the salvation others receive through religious means. Written in the last few months of her life, the two poems showcase the battle between consciousness and death and while it may seem easier to lose oneself in the bland darkness, the two extremities are frighteningly close.
Primarily, in Plath’s poems, personification brings inanimate objects to life in order to create a distinction between the speaker’s past lifestyle and the present one she is struggling to escape from through death. While one of the poems focuses on an unnamed birthday present and the other centers on a bouquet of flowers, both objects are vivid representations of the poem’s symbolic meaning. The inclusion of both objects as each poem’s respective titles also draw out each article’s message as it is the first word the reader looks at. In “A Birthday Present”, the present itself is shrouded in mystery, but its sinister characterizations lure Plath in with its “black eye-pits and a scar” (line 6). While the poem continues, the relationship between the present and its symbolism for death becomes increasingly apparent especially in the last 7 stanzas where it is unclear whether Plath is describing the present or death itself. In the lines, “It stands at my window, big as the sky. It breathes from my sheets, the cold dead center…”, the present, death, attempts to grab Plath away and to lift the “veil” mentioned multiple times throughout the poem which is the thin layer separating her from the und...


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...ults. Through the biblical allusions in both poems, Plath judges the worth of religion in respect to real salvation in the face of death, and how only individuals can make the choice to save themselves in the long run. Towards suicide, it is a personal decision and only by individual judgement can people determine what is right for themselves.
In conclusion, Plath’s incorporation of personification and biblical allusions convey her antagonistic contemplation about life and death in her poems that were written a few months before her suicide. Her reflections about both are a strong message to readers to reflect upon what they value, whether it is peace on earth or through death. While she chooses the later, her poems allow audiences 80 years after her suicide insight into the ominous portions of a human mind and an understanding that there is a price for everything.

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