Sylvia Plath's Lady Lazarus

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“Harsh” and “brutal” are adjectives not often used when speaking of poetry. Be that as it may, there simply are no other words for Sylvia Plath’s “Lady Lazarus”. Readers can be, and often are, repulsed by the gruesome imagery (“Soon, soon the flesh/The grave cave ate will be/At home on me”) and offended by the numerous references to the Holocaust (“A sort of walking miracle, my skin/Bright as a Nazi lampshade). Plath’s aggressive metaphors are difficult for many first time readers as are the themes of death, resurrection and vengeance. Driving the whole narrative forward is the transformation Plath’s persona undergoes, while exploring these themes.
From the title, which alludes to the biblical character, Lazarus, we know this will be a poem about resurrection and rebirth, specifically that of Plath’s persona, Lady Lazarus, a young woman (And I a smiling woman/I am only thirty) with a propensity for suicide (“I guess you could say I’ve a call.”)
We begin to get a sense of who Lady Lazarus is in the fourth stanza: “Peel off the napkin/O my enemy./Do I terrify?” This persona is a ...
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