A Woman Troubled In Sylvia Plath's 'Edge'

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A Woman Troubled
When first reading “Edge”, one will immediately be able to note that the poem’s flow is very peculiar. This is, in a very large part, due to the brevity and abstractness of each stanza throughout this piece of work. Plath is immediately able to make the reader think by organizing the flow of the poem in such a unique style. At first it is hard to pay attention to the contents of the poem without being distracted by the organization of it. Although it may appear pointless at first, there is a reasoning behind the structure and stylistic tendencies; “Edge” conveys a very dark and a very bleak tone throughout its entirety. This can be shown through some very subtle, and some rather obvious events throughout the poem.
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At first glance, the reader will see that the author decided to pen the poem in the third person. It becomes clear that the narrator is very familiar with the woman in the poem, and that she seems to be heavily opinionated on the events throughout the reading. When one thinks of the third person point of view, one thinks of the narrator tending to be more objective in their narration, but it is most certainly clear that the narrator, too, believes that this woman has immortalized her perfection through the means of suicide. Immediately, the poem stresses that the woman has perfected her life through death, which implies that she did not do anything wrong, or disgrace anyone. “The woman is perfected”. Such a blanket statement surely requires some analysis from the reader. The woman herself never speaks about the tragedy that has occurred in the poem. Readers are urged to side with the narrator from the very beginning of the poem. As the poem goes on, the details that are revealed become more horrifying. The woman appears to have poisoned her children. It is said in such a way that the narrator seems to not even acknowledge the gravity of the situation. Clearly the woman in this poem was a deeply troubled individual, but the narrator…show more content…
One could argue that Plath was trying to end her life on her own terms like the woman in question. This is surely a stretch, and we will never know, but, according to the narrator, there is certainly a case to be made for the woman in the poem. It is stressed throughout “Edge” that the death of this woman has led to her life ending with perfection. “Her dead/Body wears the smile of accomplishment”. This conveys that the woman seems to be content with everything that has happened. However, we as readers must not forget the mentioning of the “illusion” that this woman had of embodying perfection in her death. This line in the second stanza may contradict the perfection in death standard that this poem seems to convey. “The illusion of a Greek necessity/Flows in the scrolls of her toga…”. It may be assumed that the “Greek necessity” refers to the ritual suicides that took place in Ancient Greek times. Often times great people were forced into committing suicide for one reason or another, but this poem completely contradicts that idea. This woman has not done anything wrong, and on the contrary the reader is informed that she has done everything perfectly up to, and including, her death. This is why the reader may be able to infer that this woman had some serious issues going on inside of her. Death is rarely ever described as being a good thing, which immediately makes the reader
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