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'A sort of walking miracle, my skin / Bright as a Nazi lampshade, / My right foot / A paperweight, / My face a featureless, fine / Jew linen," (lines 4-6). Sylvia Plath's poem "Lady Lazarus" is pervaded by chilling imagery evoking Nazi concentration camps and the decay of human flesh. Yet the tone of "Lady Lazarus" is more sarcastic than sad, more angry than fearful. Plath's poem describes a third failed suicide attempt: the poem begins "I have done it again. / One year in every ten / I manage it," (lines 1-3). However, far from being glad that the doctors have rescued the poet from her demise, the narrator despises "Herr Doktor" for interfering in the "art" of dying, an "art" she performs "exceptionally well," (lines 44; 45). The narrator acknowledges her preoccupation with death, and admits freely her determination to persist in her suicide attempts:…… [Read More]
Ultimately, Lady Lazarus uses her status as a failed suicide as a source of power, not disempowerment. The haunting words of the end of the tale that she is a woman who eats men like air are meant to underline the fact that despite the fact that the doctors feel that they are the source of her coming to life again and again, there is a strength of spirit within her, a kind of devouring frenzy that is frightening and cannot be contained. "Herr God, Herr Lucifer" are all one to Lady Lazarus and her repeated call of "Beware, Beware: echoes Coleridge's poem "Kubla Khan" (79-81). Lady Lazarus is not a poet herself, but a performer, and through the use of such analogies and sharp shifts in language throughout poem Plath makes it clear that Lady Lazarus is a poetic creation. Lady Lazarus speaks like a barker, like a religious…… [Read More]
Sylvia Plath: The Use of Dramatic Monologue as Confessional Poetry
Sylvia Plath presents an unusual paradox as a writer. On one hand, she is lauded by literary critics, particularly feminist critics, for her use of confessional poetry. Specifically, in poems such as "Daddy" and "Lady Lazarus" Plath is assumed to be 'confessing' certain aspects of her personal life. Like the speaker of "Daddy," she was the daughter of a German father; like the subject of "Lady Lazarus" she attempted suicide several times. On the other hand, both of these poems are still written in the genre of the dramatic monologue, in which a speaker articulates an idea through the assumed persona of another person obviously different from the poet.
In "Daddy," perhaps Plath's most famous poem, the speaker is the child of a former Nazi officer who is desperately trying to exorcise the ghost of her father.
An engine, an…… [Read More]
All of this had been made possible due to the fact that with every man, or every ten men or every million people killed by the Nazis, the prisoner community only grew stronger and more indifferent to the thought of dying.
A reason for why Plath chose to refer to the Holocaust in her poem would be that she considered the occurrence to be one of the worst acts of violence done by man. Thus she would relate to the Holocaust in her poem to present people with the passion of her feelings at the time.
Nevertheless, with all the brave people who stood strong when others would have run and hide, Plath shows that the Holocaust did indeed affect Jewish people everywhere. The scars of the Holocaust are still visible, according to Plath, with the woman in the poem still recalling, and being haunted by the disaster. The human…… [Read More]
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones will do. (51-60)
These lines allow us to see the poet dealing with her anger and the final thought is equally powerful when the poet tells her father, " Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through" (110). The anger, unlike her father, lives and that might be the most agonizing aspect of the poem. There is no way for the poet to escape these emotions.
Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath are poetic geniuses that cut their fame and their lives short. hile many would like to contend that neither poet would have been as popular had they lived, this is simply not the case. Their poetry stands alone because, ore than anything, it is real. Sexton and Plath were not ashamed of facing their feelings and presenting them in a realistic way. Both…… [Read More]
oman Loves her Father, Every oman Loves a Fascist:
The Politics and Poetics of Despair in Plath's "Daddy"
Sylvia Plath is one of the most famous poets to emerge in the late 20th century. Partially due to the success of her autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, which details her partial recovery from suicidal depression, Plath's poetry has been frequently analyzed through the lens of her clinical mental problems. "Dying is An Art," the critic George Steiner titles of his essay on Plath, referring not only to a line from her poem "Lady Lazarus" but the critical elision of the poet's personal suicidal depression with the source of her confessional poetic gift. For instance, Plath's masterpiece, "Daddy," is a dramatic monologue in the voice of a German woman whose father was a Nazi. Yet despite the 'assumed' nature of "Daddy's" voice and the apparent divergence of poet from the speaker, the…… [Read More]
omen felt oppressed and men felt the need to take back their pre-war status as head of the household. These dynamics created a power-play between men and women that eventually culminated with the omen's Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Men struggled to retain their power, while women struggled to recapture what they had a taste of in the 1940s.
Although most of the women of the omen's Liberation Movement were not around during the war and were not Rosies themselves, they had listened to the rhetoric and talk from their mothers and grandmothers. The existence of this movement is evidence that other social influences were able to override the images portrayed on television and in magazines. The battle ground for this war between the sexes was family values and the home. The Brady Bunch was the ultimate stereotype of this era. One of the key factors in this…… [Read More]
Memory: The Statue of Liberty
The 7-volume French Realms of Memory: Rethinking the French Past and its condensed 3-volume English translation examine French History through "collective memories" of powerful French symbols. Editor Pierre Nora sums up France's History as "neither a resurrection nor a reconstitution nor a reconstruction nor even a representation but, in the strongest possible sense, a 'rememoration" (Nora and Kritzman xxiv). In Nora's theory, History involves memory as "the overall structure of the past within the present" (Nora and Kritzman xxiv) and co-editor Kritzman asserts, "Our knowledge of the past is less a question of our empirical grip on the past than on our apprehension of the past as we represent it through the lens of the present" (Nora and Kritzman xii).
Examining famous French symbols such as the Eiffel Tower and Joan of Arc (Nora and Kritzman xii), Nora's and Kritzman's work illustrates that the "realm…… [Read More]
Giovanni Boccaccio: The Decameron
The Black Death of 1348 forms the background to Boccaccio's Decameron; a group of ten young high-born citizens of Florence -- seven women and three men -- flee the city to escape the disease and take refuge in the villas outside the city walls. The idea of refuge lies behind the form of the text, and the place of refuge is not only an escape but a viewpoint from which the real world can be analysed, criticized, and rendered harmless through mockery (Forni, 54). The refugees from the plague pass the time in their refuge by telling stories, with each person telling one story each day to make a total of one hundred tales. The Decameron thus arises from and reflects a society afflicted by the overwhelming catastrophe of the Black Death, a catastrophe which, in the 1340s, reduced the population of the city by up…… [Read More]
Jesus' Teachings, Prayer, & Christian Life
"He (Jesus) Took the Bread. Giving Thanks Broke it. And gave it to his Disciples, saying, 'This is my Body, which is given to you.'" At Elevation time, during Catholic Mass, the priest establishes a mandate for Christian Living. Historically, at the Last Supper, Christ used bread and wine as a supreme metaphor for the rest of our lives. Jesus was in turmoil. He was aware of what was about to befall him -- namely, suffering and death. This was the last major lesson he would teach before his arrest following Judas' betrayal. Eschatologically speaking, the above set the stage for the Christian ministry of the apostles, evangelists and priests. Indeed, every Christian is called to give of him or herself for the Glory of God and the Glory of Mankind. The message at the Last Supper was powerful. People have put themselves through…… [Read More]
Antjie Krog's Country Of Grief And Grace
Antjie Krog (2000) uses metaphor and extended metaphor throughout the poem "Country of Grief and Grace" -- itself an exploration of existential crisis in South Africa, ravaged by apartheid and violence. Krog descends into this maelstrom to provide the reader a glimpse, a hope, a ray of light that beams through the sludge of hopelessness, despair and grief. Through her use of metaphor and extended metaphor, Krog constructs an alternate way of looking at the world in which she lives -- a framework that invites the reader to question the borders and boundaries of time and space which keep separate the past and the future, the young and the old, the black and the white. By merging or synthesizing the elements of her country into a cohesive whole, Krog shows that all is one -- and in this revelation is the seed of…… [Read More]