Lady Lazarus, by Sylvia Plath

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“Lady Lazarus” is a poem by Sylvia Plath, written in 1962 shortly before her death in early 1963, and published posthumously by her husband, poet Ted Hughes, in 1965 in the collected volume Ariel. “Lady Lazarus” is a poem about suicide as a rebirth, and was in part inspired by Plath's own life and draws heavily on Plath's lifelong struggle with bipolar depression and suicidal feelings, and uses holocaust imagery to paint a bleak portrait of suicide and hopelessness. Sylvia Plath was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1932 to a German immigrant college professor and his graduate student-turned-wife. The early years of Plath's life were comfortable, spending much of her time near the seaside. After losing her father in 1940, Plath and her mother found themselves in a more strained financial situation. This led to feelings of betrayal and resentment toward her father, and partially inspired arguably her most well known poem, “Daddy.” Plath was a brilliant writer from a young age and excelled in school, attending Smith College on scholarship. (Poets.org) As Plath went through late adolescence her depression worsened. It is believed that Plath suffered from bipolar disorder as indicated by her published writing and her journal entries. In an entry dated June 20, 1958, Plath writes “It is as if my life were magically run by two electric currents: joyous positive and despairing negative—whichever is running at the moment dominates my life, floods it” (qtd. by Poets.org) Her depression eventually led to a suicide attempt at age 20, when Plath overdosed on sleeping pills that had been prescribed for her insomnia. Plath received electroconvulsive therapy as treatment for her breakdown, and for a short while it had seemed like she had mad... ... middle of paper ... ...ul use of symbolism, Plath describes the mind and feelings of a person suffering from bipolar disorder and evokes in her reader the feelings of hopelessness, frustration and despair that often plague those who suffer from the disease, and eventually drove Plath herself to suicide. Works Cited The Holy Bible, King James Version. Cambridge Edition: 1769; King James Bible Online, Web. 11 Apr. 2014. . Plath, Sylvia. "Lady Lazarus." Poets.org. The Academy of American Poets, 23-29 Oct. 1962. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. . Peter K., Steinberg. "Biography." A celebration, this is. N.p., 1 Dec. 2007. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. . "Sylvia Plath." Poets.org. The Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. .
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