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Sylvia Plath's Lady Lazarus Essay

1571 words - 6 pages

Sylvia Plath, author of “Lady Lazarus”, is “widely considered one of the most emotionally evocative and compelling American poets of the postwar period” (“Plath, Sylvia: Introduction”). Plath was born in Boston, Massachusetts and her father died when she was eight. Plath attended Smith College and due to overwhelming conditions, she lapsed into a severe depression and overdosed on sleeping pills. After receiving psychiatric care, Plath enrolled in Newnham College where she met and married English poet Ted Hughes. Subsequent to Hughes affair and their divorce, Plath became progressively despondent and she committed suicide by inhaling gas from her kitchen stove (“Plath, Sylvia: Introduction”). American writer Sylvia Plath had many outstanding works including “Lady Lazarus”. This work illustrates Plath’s use of autobiographical influence, theme, and style, especially her use of imagery.
“Lady Lazarus” is an “extraordinarily bitter dramatic monologue in twenty-eight tercets” (Heaton). A female Lazarus that takes pleasure in rising from the dead several times is the speaker of this poem. The narrator begins by saying, “I have done it again,” in reference to dying. She then proceeds to compare herself to a Holocaust victim and says that she has nine lives, similar to that of a cat. Plath writes that this is the third time she is dying and she describes the first two deaths, saying, “Dying / Is an art”. Plath then compares herself to a Holocaust victim again, being burned at a concentration camp. At the end, she seems to have gained some power through death and she is resurrected once again (Shmoop Editorial Team).
“A complicated literary personality whose biography is nearly impossible to disentangle from her writing,” Sylvia Plath incorporated her personal experiences and emotions into everything she wrote (“Plath, Sylvia: Introduction”). In “Lady Lazarus”, Plath describes dying as an art and says that she does this exceptionally well. Given Plath’s multiple suicide attempts, it is lucid that this poem directly reflects upon her life and her suicidal condition ("Explanation of: 'Lady Lazarus' by Sylvia Plath"). The speaker in “Lady Lazarus” has “intentions to throw herself into death yet again” and is attracted to the “theatrical” aspect of suicide (“Overview: ‘Lady Lazarus’”). Plath wrote “Lady Lazarus” several months before her death and at this time, she was in a critical condition, which she reveals in the strong language that she utilizes in the poem. In addition, the reoccurring attempts at death and resurrection reflect her life, considering she tried to commit suicide twice and by obtaining psychiatric help, she was “resurrected” once. The self-destruction in “Lady Lazarus” equates to Plath’s state of mind, and her life is intertwined in the poem (Heaton).
In “Lady Lazarus”, the speaker “makes herself vulnerable as she takes control and charges the crowd for the ‘eyeing of [her] scars’” (Dahlke). When speaking of these scars, Plath refers...

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