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Death, Personal Experience And The Supernatural In Sylvia Plath's Poetry

1997 words - 8 pages

These five poems by Sylvia Plath are all connected by the theme of death, self-loathing, and by the presence of historical and magical concepts. Sylvia Plath uses very powerfully charged imagery of controversial and emotional topics in order to best describe her own life. Most of the poems reflect her own personal life, including the events that she has experienced and, more appropriately, the relationships and emotions that she has felt. Every single one of these five poems uses the word “dead” and the topic of death itself is prevalent in some manner. Of particular interest is the presence of her relationship with her deceased father, and her own reluctance to let go of his memory. Plath's poetry reflects her own self-loathing and disregard for her own existence. Her poems often mention her own attempts at suicide, in addition to her personal experiences with trying to get rid of her suicidal desires. In each of her poems she evokes the images of historical and mythical creatures and concepts linked with the religious and the supernatural. In addition, her poems can be connected by the idea of being held back or held down by some sort of feeling, either of desire for a loved one, escape from mortal existence or of a fantasy world.
In the poem “The Colossus”, Plath is reflecting on her relationship with her father. She depicts him as a giant statue of sorts that has broken into pieces that, despite her efforts, she can never piece back together. This poem reflects her inability to let go of her father despite him being dead for most of her life; she's thirty years old at the time. In one particular line, she says, “Thirty years now I have labored / To dredge the silt from your throat. / I am none the wiser.” (Plath 48-49) The tone is very aggressive; she uses strong words in order to express how attached she has been to her father, all for nothing in the end. She's angry at herself for not being able to forget about him. Her attachment to her father has brought her nothing but misery. She calls herself an ant, an insignificant creature working to fill all the cracks that this giant has left behind in her life. The words are all about movement, “scaling”, “crawl”, “mend”, and how this statue mocks her for trying to fix him. She write, “Mule-bray, pig-grunt and bawdy cackles / Proceed from your great lips. / It's worse than a barnyard.”(Plath 48-49) Plath takes great care to describe this broken statue, taking every opportunity she can to relate it to death itself. This statue is so large, though, that it is part of the very landscape; as much as she want to forget him, he is a very powerful figure in her mind. Here is where we get into another part of Plath. In her poetry she often makes allusions to mythological or fantastical figures from history. The very title of the poem itself can be seen as a reference to the massive statue of the Greek god, Helios, that was erected in Ancient Greece. Furthering this idea is her incorporation of the...

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