Analysis Of Sylvia Plath's 'Lady Lazarus'

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Makayla Williams
Mrs. Mandy Feasel
AP English III
11 May 2015
“Lady Lazarus:” Free to Die “Lady Lazarus,” a poem widely known for its dark images and symbolism, captures the reader’s attention and entices him or her with a sense of familiarity with Lazarus; however, the comfortable feeling shatters as the reader takes a frightening journey through the life and deaths of Lady Lazarus. Sylvia Plath’s “Lady Lazarus” is semi- autobiographical in that through the pseudonym of Lady Lazarus, Plath uses her own personal issues and growing frustration with her oppressing father as the starting point to express her ideas on bigger issues such as the Holocaust, universal oppression, and the inhumanity of modern war. Lady Lazarus, the narrator, dies
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However, in “Lady Lazarus” she branches out using a blend of her own style and a Roman confessional style (qtd. in “On ‘Lady Lazarus’” 11). She pairs the image of her disintegrating body and worms with the image of a seashell and pearls: it’s almost as if the worms were her prize for nearly dying. Plath demonstrates many literary devices in “Lady Lazarus” including: allusion, simile, metaphor, assonance, irony, sarcasm, and hyperbole. The allusion to John 11:1-44 in the title Lady Lazarus refers to a biblical parable in which Jesus Christ raised a man named Lazarus from the dead just as Lady Lazarus’ enemy, Herr Doktor, raises her from the dead as his “pure gold baby” (Plath 69).The speaker is named Lady Lazarus; displaying and embracing her femininity and power with an authoritative title such as Lady and, also, relating to Lazarus. Multiple times throughout the poem Plath alludes to Nazis and the Holocaust saying, “my skin bright as a Nazi lampshade” (Plath 4-5) and “a cake of soap, a wedding ring, a gold filling” (Plath 76-78). She also plays on many of the popular rumors: mentioning “soap,” rumored to be made from the fat of Jews, and a “Nazi lampshade,” rumored to be made from Jewish skin. Factual issues are mentioned as well to give the poem credibility and prove the harshness of humanity; “wedding ring,” and “gold filling”— items known to be picked out of the ash at the crematorium or stripped from Jews upon entering a concentration camp—are used to represent Plath’s
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