Lady Lazarus Commentary

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Daniella de los Reyes
Word Count: 1273

How far will one let their obsessions, weaknesses and feelings get the best of them? This is the key question to Sylvia Plath’s poem, Lady Lazarus. While the poem works as an extended metaphor of Plath’s psychosocial journey from the age of ten onwards, as she writes about her near death experiences every decade; Plath implies how those oppressed and persecuted like herself eventually rebel or lose their dignity and sense of self. It is through Plath’s use of metaphors, symbolic colors, and tone does one experience the personal pain and corporate suffering the author was afflicted by throughout her life.

Plath’s use of metaphors conveys the historical and private movement within herself and the poem as she makes references to the Holocaust, her “resurrection” as a sort of magic show and herself as a phoenix. Throughout the poem Plath constantly returns to the idea of the Holocaust creating parallels between her inner conflict and that between the Jews and Nazis. In stanza two she uses the image of a “bright as a Nazi lampshade” (5) to describe her skin which she points out to be the tyrant within her and her face as a “featureless, fine Jew linen” (8) which is slowly deteriorating. The constant struggle between the weak versus the strong illustrates the life long battle occurring within Plath, in which the tyrant within her, forces her will to commit suicide and like the Jews she is withering under the will power.

In stanza nine the author introduces the idea of her resurrection as the poet who reveals her suffering plays to an audience, or “peanut-crunching crowd” (26) who shove in to see her as she is “unwrapped” (28) by the crowd like a “big strip tease” in which the author though may be still fully dressed, feels emotionally naked and exposed. That represents herself to be crucified before the gaze of the vulgar mass. Later in stanzas twenty and twenty-one the writer reintroduces the idea...
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