How Sylvia Plath's Life Is Reflected In The Poems Daddy, Morning Song, And Lady Lazarus

3389 words - 14 pages

How Sylvia Plath's Life is Reflected in the Poems Daddy, Morning Song, and Lady Lazarus

Sylvia Plath has had an "exciting" life, if I can use this word. Her
father died from an undiagnosed diabetes when she was eight. At the
same time, a short couplet that she wrote was published in the Boston
Sunday Herald. Later, she won scholarships to study in Smith, Harvard,
and finally Cambridge. There, Plath married Ted Hughes, who was a good
poet, too. What amazes me in her life is that she had attempted
suicide three times, once every ten years. In 1963, she succeeded in
killing herself as she gassed herself to death. In an outsider point
of view I always wonder how a woman with so much going for her would
want to end her life: though her husband's infidelity, she was
nevertheless successful--her poems appeared in various prestigious
newspapers and magazines, and she was even invited to teach English in
Smith College. Plath's death has been subject to unending analysis and
interpretation, framed by the kind of inquiry that usually guides
classroom literary discussions. What was Plath's intention? What did
her suicide mean? What did it reveal about her family, her society,
her time, her sex, herself?

Two years after her death, "Ariel" was published. This small book
includes Plath's poems written not long ago before her death. She
wrote about the crucial issues of her life, but she made outstanding
art from those issues. In foreword, Robert Lowell writes that "Though
lines get repeated, and sometimes the plot is lost, language never
dies in her mouth…Everything in these poems is personal, confessional,
felt, but the manner of feeling is controlled hallucination, the
autobiography of a fever." Plath uses powerful language and imagery to
express her feelings and thoughts. Most of the poems in "Ariel" show
Plath's self, going from a state of symbolic death to one of rebirth.
In this essay we will look into her life through three of her poems in
"Ariel": "Daddy", "Lady Lazarus", and "Morning Song."

"Morning Song" is the opening poem in "Ariel." It is generally agreed
that the poem expresses Plath's conflicted feelings at the birth of
her first child, her daughter Frieda Rebecca Plath, especially her
sense of diminishment and servitude that only motherhood can involve.
On the first line we can see that Frieda was really the fruit of love
between Sylvia and Ted-it says, "Love set you going like a fat gold
watch." A gold watch is a beautiful and dear gift. The word "fat" here
implies beautiful, too, because fat babies are beautiful. Also, Frieda
might have had some kind of breathing difficulty the time she was
born, as the second and third lines go: "The midwife slapped your
footsoles, and your bald cry/Took its place among the elements." It
hints that the nurse ("midwife") slapped the baby's...

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