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The Dark Side of Sylvia Plath's Poetry Biography Biographies Essays

2016-03-31 | 来源:51due教员组 | 类别:更多范文



The Dark Side of Sylvia Plath's Poetry

 

     bell jar- (bêl jär) n. a cylindrical glass vessel with a rounded top and an      open base, used to protect and display fragile objects or to establish a      vacuum or a controlled atmosphere in scientific experiments (mish 105).  

     instead of starting with plath's poetry I decided to start off with her only novel, the bel jar. "the bell jar is a novel about the events of sylvia plath's twentieth year; about how she tried to die, and how they stuck her together with glue. it is a fine novel, as bitter and remorseless as her last poems--the kind of book salinger's franny might have written about herself ten years later, if she had spent those ten years in hell" (scholes). i want to explain the imagery in the title of plath's autobiography. i stated the definition earlier. a bell jar is basically like a regular jar that has been turned upside down. it is glass and transparent. unlike a jar, a bell jar is often used to display something fragile. in her novel, plath was fragile and her bell jar was her environment. in her novel she spent five weeks in a mental institution. there, she was on display to many counselors, nurses, physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists. they watched Pplath regain stability from the day of her arrival to the day of her dismissal. also, "controlled atmosphere" can be seen as the environment of the institute.      now on to the poetry of sylvia plath. just a little note... before i read her work i thought poetry sucked. anyway, in the poem "lady lazarus" plath speaks of her own suicide and she even takes some pride in her knowledge of death. in a reading prepared for bbc radio, plath introduced this poem: "the speaker is a woman who has the great and terrible gift of being reborn. the only trouble is, she has to die first. she is the phoenix, the libertarian spirit, what you will. she is also just a good, plain, very resourceful woman" (Plath 294).  

     i have done it again.      one year in every ten

     i manage it--

 

     a sort of walking miracle, my skin

     bright as a Nazi lampshade,      my right foot

 

     a paperweight,      my face a featureless, fine

     jew linen.  

     peel off the napkin

     o my enemy.      do i terrify?--  

     the nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?      the sour breath

     will vanish in a day.  

     soon, soon the flesh      the grave cave ate will be

     at home on me

     and i a smiling woman.      i am only thirty.      and like the cat i have nine times to die.      this is number three.      what a trash

     to annihilate each decade.  

     what a million filaments.      the peanut-crunching crowd

     shoves in to see

     them unwrap me hand and foot--

     the big strip tease.      gentlemen, ladies

 

     these are my hands

     my knees.      i may be skin and bone,  

     nevertheless, i am the same, identical woman.      the first time it happened i was ten.      it was an accident.  

     the second time i meant

     to last it out and not come back at all.      i rocked shut  

     as a seashell.      they had to call and call

     and pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.  

     dying      ss an art, like everything else.      i do it exceptionally well.  

     i do it so it feels like hell.      i do it so it feels real.      i guess you could say i've a call.  

     it's easy enough to do it in a cell.      it's easy enough to do it and stay put.      it's the theatrical

 

     comeback in a broad day

     to the same place, the same face, the same brute

     amused shout:  

     'a miracle!'      that knocks me out.      there is a charge

 

     for the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge

     for the hearing of my heart--

     it really goes.      and there is a charge, a very large charge

     for a word or a touch

     or a bit of blood

 

     or a piece of my hair or my clothes.      so, so herr doktor.      so, herr enemy.  

     i am your opus,      i am your valuable,      the pure gold baby

 

     that melts to a shriek.      i turn and burn.      do not think i underestimate your great concern.  

     ash, ash--

     you poke and stir.      flesh, bone, there is nothing there--

 

     a cake of soap,      a wedding ring,      a gold filling.  

     herr god, herr lucifer

     beware

     beware.  

     out of the ash

     i rise with my red hair

     and i eat men like air (plath 244-247).  

i love the last four verses of this poem. plath is describing, after she has been burned or cremated, someone is stirring in the ashes. a wedding ring and gold filling are left behind. she warns god and lucifer that she isn't dying. this is her rebirth. she rises from the ash. i'd love to take every one of plath's poems and interpret them all but i haven't the time.

 

     sylvia plath suffered from a mental illness called depression. before the death of her father in 1940 sylvia led a pretty normal childhood and her depression was stabilized. she excelled in school and received many awards for her exceptional talent in writing. the death of her father left her to feel guilty and confused. these emotions are voiced in her poems, "daddy" and "the colossus." after her father's death her life became stressful. she strived for success sometimes setting herself up for failure. she would send her work to different publishers, only to be rejected. when she was in tenth grade her teacher read a few of her poems aloud to the class. she received much praise for her work but knowing that she was exceptional caused her to feel "different" from her peers; an out cast. her social life died as she secluded herself. feelings of loneliness intensified her depression. after being rejected from a fiction writing class at harvard summer school plath was devastated. this was the ultimate rejection. her decision to attempt suicide brings us back to the bell jar. although she was stable after leaving the mental institution there is always a fear that you < will one day fall again. this is apparent as she stated in her novel, "how did i know that someday- at college, in europe, somewhere, anywhere-the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn't descend again?" (plath 197.) depression is an awful illness that leaves you feeling empty, afraid, and confused even after you have recuperated. no one ever fully recovers from depression. once you have experienced a depressed state, once you have gone through the suicide attempts, the down falls, and the unbearable racing thoughts of death, you are never the same.  

     suicide is committed by everyone and everyone kills another person. i'll explain in a bit but right now i'd like to give a description of the last day sylvia plath lived. on the morning of february 11th of 1963 sylvia plath awoke and prepared a plate of cookies and two glasses of milk in the kitchen. she brought the treat into her children's room. as she was leaving her children's room she closed the door and stuffed towels in the crack of the door. she then returned to the kitchen, and opened the oven door and turned it on. she laid a towel on the oven's door and wrapped her head in a towel, and then knelt to the floor and placed her head on the oven door. she killed herself with the fumes from the oven at age 30.

 

     now, in my introduction i said that i wanted to give my opinion of sylvia's actions. remember that i also made a statement before the description of her suicide. suicide is committed by everyone and everyone kills another person. here is my rationalization: in this society, suicide is viewed as something that only a "crazy" person would do. i am befuddled by the hypocrisy of most of society. we drive our fancy cars around town, pouring toxic fumes into the air, and shortening our lives. we eat fast food, clogging our arteries, shortening our lives. we cause stress and panic with weapons used as child's play, shortening our lives. wvery day, we shorten our own life and someone else's. sylvia plath shortened her own life, just as i have and will continue to shorten my own and just as you will continue to shorten yours. my opinion is that, in certain situations, certain actions are unavoidable.  

     in conclusion, i realize that in writing this paper i never cared for sylvia or her work. i only cared for myself. through her actions, the acts of society, and my own actions, i am able to convince myself that i am "normal" and that if i did commit suicide i would be forgiven of my sin. perhaps in rationalizing sylvia's suicide with the statement, "suicide is committed by everyone and everyone kills someone else" i am actually admitting my fear that one day i will fall into the same deep depression that killed plath.  

     if i committed suicide, i would still be a faithful christian but i don't know if iwould be forgiven of my sin.  

works cited

 

"bell jar." merriam webster's collegiate dictionary: tenth edition. ed. mish. united states: thomas e. stanley, 1993. 105.

 

plath, sylvia. the collected poems. ed. ted hughes. new york: harper and row, 1981. 244-247, 294.  

--------------- the bell jar. new york: bantam, 1972. 197.  

scholes, robert. comment. the bell jar. by sylvia plath. new york: bantam, 1972

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