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Women's Fight Against Social Convention In Sylvia Plath's Poem, Ariel

620 words - 2 pages

Women's Fight Against Social Convention in Sylvia Plath's Poem, Ariel

"Ariel" is the title poem from Sylvia Plath's controversial collection of poetry written during the last few months of her life in 1963. The traditional gender roles of 1960s America promoted a double-standard and wrongly imposed upon women the idea of a "Happy Housewife Heroine" who cherished "the receptivity and passivity implicit in (her) nature" and was "devoted to (her) own beauty and (her) ability to bear and nurture children" (Friedan, 59). Plath comments on the devastating effects of social convention on individuality, but she realizes that both sexes are affected by society's oppression of its members. She contemplates this theme throughout Ariel, especially in the "The Applicant," a critique of the emptiness of the stereotypical roles of men and women at the time.

In Shakespeare's The Tempest, Ariel is a good spirit who is enslaved by Prospero and is constantly striving for freedom. This struggle is comparable to that of American women for recognition and respect in the 1960s. "Ariel" illustrates the hardship of the Women's Liberation Movement; the challenges women faced after rejecting their conventional roles and embracing their new femininity.

Ariel
by Sylvia Plath
Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue
Pour of tor and distances.

God's lioness,
How one we grow,
Pivot of heels and knees!--The furrow

Splits and passes, sister to
The brown arc
Of the neck I cannot catch,

Nigger-eye
Berries cast dark
Hooks---

Black sweet blood mouthfuls,
Shadows.
Something else

Hauls me through air---
Thighs, hair;
Flakes from my heels.

White
Godiva, I unpeel---
Dead hands, dead stringencies.

And now I
Foam to wheat, a glitter of seas.
The child's cry

Melts in the wall.
And I
Am the arrow,

The dew that flies
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red

Eye, the cauldron of morning.

The struggle connoted by the title is first described as "Stasis in darkness;" it is characterized as hopeless and unchanging as a...

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