Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath - Poetry Analysis

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'Lady Lazarus' was written by Sylvia Plath. On a literal level, this poem is about death and attempting suicide. It is most likely that it was written from Plath's personal experience as she was known for her suicidal nature. This poem has 28 tercet stanzas. There is no clear rhyme scheme yet rhyming can be found throughout this poem, for example "I have done it again/One year in every ten", so there is an irregular rhyme scheme. Literary devices such as end-stopped lines and enjambment are also used: "What a trash/To annihilate each decade." One important aspect is the demonic tone of this poem. The way that Plath seems to tell the story as if it were a show or carnival is another aspect which ties in to the demonic tone of 'Lady Lazarus'. Plath structures her poem in a certain way in order to create different effects. For example, enjambment is used: "The second time I meant/To last it out and not come back at all." Sylvia uses enjambment in order to make the poem run more smoothly. Also, end-stopped lines are used alongside enjambment: "The sour breath/Will vanish in a day." Enjambment and end-stopped lines are opposite ways of ending a line of a poem. Also, the end-stopped lines are irregularly placed. Therefore, this contrast and irregularity of structure makes the reader abruptly stop and think unexpectedly throughout the poem: "My knees." This makes the speaker almost spit the words out as they read, which adds to the demonic tone of this poem. The metre of this poem is an iambic pentameter because the 10 syllable lines, when read aloud, clearly follow an unstressed to stressed pattern: "A sort of walking miracle, my skin". However, this metre is not completely accurate throughout the poem. This adds to the irregularity of the poem and makes the reader sound less robotic and fixed to one metre throughout. Irregularity can also be seen in the rhyme scheme of this poem. There is no clear rhyme scheme, making it irregular. Moreover, there are some half rhymes: "I do it so it feels like hell/I do it so it feels real." Overall, the structure of this poem was constructed by Plath in an irregular way. I believe she did this to enhance to shock of this poem, as if to say that, by examining the irregular structure, one can tell that the poem is unusual and disturbing. On the first read of 'Lady Lazarus', a literal meaning becomes apparent: this poem is about attempting suicide. Plath gives the reader clues to this: "The first time it happened I was ten...Dying/Is an art, like everything else." Sylvia attempted suicide herself at least once (one attempted suicide was documented but Sylvia could have tried many more times privately), so this poem is drawing from real life experience. In fact, Plath did almost die when she "was ten " in a swimming "accident." However, she is not simply documenting what actually happened to her: there is a fictional element to this poem, which is where one can see the deeper, figurative meaning. Plath takes on the persona of 'Lady Lazarus', drawn from the biblical character Lazarus of Bethany, who died and was resurrected by Jesus, which is why Plath included the line "'A miracle!'" However, she follows on with "That knocks me out." The raising of Lazarus was what began the chain of events that led to Jesus' crucifixion. Therefore, the figurative meaning of "Lady Lazarus' is that when others see resurrecting as "'A miracle!'", Plath knows that, in fact, it leads to worse things. In her case, surviving a suicide attempt meant that she would continue to suffer from depression, the reason why she curses those who save her: "So, so, Herr Doktor./So, Herr Enemy." The use of "Herr" is most likely to refer to Hitler and the Nazis, a prominent theme of this poem. There are a number of themes brought up in 'Lady Lazarus'. One theme is the holocaust. In the 2nd stanza, Plath mentions a "Nazi lampshade". This refers to the myth that the Nazis used Jewish skin from the victims of the holocaust to make...
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