When students like me begin to study the works of Sylvia Plath, most of us tend to portray her as another raging poetess that we would have to study and because she eventually gassed herself to death at the young age of 30 in 1963, we have a further disinterest to analyse her writing. It is unfortunate that this tragic legacy has now overshadowed her profession because during that era of time in the 1950’s, her poetry was perceived as refreshing and countercultural. This was because, without ‘womanly’ modesty, she was able to eloquently express her mental anguish for her unsettled conflicts with her parents and her troubling marriage to Ted Hughes. I would like to believe she was the pivotal plight for the American feminist movement in 1960’s. In fact, her Confessional works has the emotional authenticity that can resonate with a teenager’s frame of mind.
In Sylvia Plath’s second collection, Ariel, contained one of her most dynamic pieces of poetry she had written called Lady Lazarus. Commonly, this poem is interpreted as an expression of Plath’s personal pain. However, instead of simply examining how she romanticises the theme of death within Lady Lazarus, if we change our perception of this poem, it is more than just her suicidal impulses. Lady Lazarus contemplates the predatory recognition Sylvia Plath receives from onlookers and comments on the problem that creativity is depended on the morbid demands of consumerism. Through this interpretation of the poem, she creates a persona that destroys herself as a desperate act of contempt yet is continually brought back to life to appease a vulgar audience. To put it simply, she is furious that this audience are more interested in her resurrection ...
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... engrossed in disturbing events such as Plath surviving two suicide attempts rather that her literary achievements. Plath enquires this perception by applying imagery and alluding to The Holocaust to express how the vulgar interests of society are responsible for the Plath’s unhappiness and sorrow. The poem’s tone wanders and intensifies to validate her empowering disapproval of these notions and never weakens into sentimentality or appeal for sympathy. Plath stylises the composition and rhythm of the poem so that she has the readers’ attention directly concerning her outlook about the effect of a society of consumers on creativity. So with a modicum of propriety, I hope students or anyone who first study Sylvia Plath will appreciate the frankness in her writing and understand that her poems are not only skilfully composed but also question wider aspects of society.
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