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Archetypical Female: Thematic Analysis Of “Two Sisters Of Persephone”

910 words - 4 pages

In literature, authors have often been inspired by Greek mythology, like the myth of Persephone. While picking flowers, the attractive Greek goddess Persephone was abducted and raped by Hades, the God of the underworld. Persephone’s mother, Demeter, frantically searching to retrieve her daughter, who was held captive in the underworld, forbade the earth to produce, so nothing was growing on its surface during that time. Zeus finally put an end to this quarrel by obliging Persephone to stay for one third of the year with her new husband, since she ate the food of the dead. She would spend the rest of the year in the upper world. When she’s the queen of the underworld, the earth becomes barren; it’s winter. The rest of the time, she’s the goddess of vegetation and the earth becomes fertile. The duality of Persephone’s role in this myth is revived in Plath’s poem. In “Two Sisters of Persephone,” Sylvia Plath uses an allusion to the Greek myth of Persephone to condemn the archetypical female identity. The author is denouncing this stereotype with the allusion to the myth and the use of diction introducing the dualities between light and darkness and fertility and infertility.

Plath criticizes the classic women identity by referring to the duality between light and darkness through an allusion to the Greek legend of Persephone. In this poem, the opposite lifestyles of two sisters are uncovered. The first one is working; she calculates sums on her machine. The other sister becomes a mother to be. With diction, the reader perceives the life of the first woman as a dark and sad one, which is the opposite of the bright and happy life of the second woman. Words such as “shade” and “dark wainscoted room,” (Plath 1) describe the shady atmosphere surrounding the first lady and even details her appearance as “root-pale.” (Plath 1) Opposite words such as “bright,” “sun,” and “gold,” (Plath 1) are employed to characterize the second sister; therefore, emphasizing on the contrast of their lifestyles. Plath writes: “Daylong a duet of shade and light plays between these.” (Plath 1) This quote sums up the feeling one gets while reading. This duality between light and shade is alive throughout the poem and is a clear reference to Persephone. Indeed, this Greek goddess had two sides. For a third of the year she was the queen of shades and the dead and after that, she was the goddess of vegetation and life. So, a part of her is darkness and evil, whereas the other part is light and life, which is exactly the two sisters’ case. Plath used this allusion to show how a workingwoman was perceived compared to a mother to be. The one who works is...

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