Explore the preoccupation with death in “Edge” and “Lady Lazarus”.
Death is very much a universal theme and one present in numerous poems written by Sylvia Plath. The subject of death, and consequently Plath’s work, can therefore relate to everyone as it is relevant to all humanity, nobody is exempt. It can be seen that Plath had a preoccupation with death, it has been said that she was attracted to it like “moths to an electric light bulb” . Indeed, Plath attempted suicide on several occasions throughout her life, finally succumbing to her “passionate flirtation” with death in February 1963. Both “Edge” and “Lady Lazarus” were written close to the end of her life and they both explore the idea of death, yet do so from different perspectives.
The title “Edge” could imply a knife edge, it could also suggest that an end is near and a journey is being completed or perhaps symbolise an edge closer to death. Conversely, “Lady Lazarus” connotes restoration to life, due to the biblical story of Lazarus, who Jesus resurrected from the dead. The headings of these two poems are contrasted, “Edge” suggesting an end to life, and “Lady Lazarus” indicating a new beginning. Both titles however, imply that death is a focal point of the poem.
The mood in “Edge” is calm, “Her dead/ Body wears the smile of accomplishment”, this signifies a sense of fulfilment and completion, and a readiness for death as a result. The enjambment used here makes the poem flow and helps create the restful tone. The atmosphere is one of peacefulness, “the sweet, deep throats of the night flower” implying death is serene and tranquil, thus creating a positive depiction of death. The ambience is also rather melancholy and pathos is used to appeal to the audiences emotions, here evoking a sense of pity and sadness - “One at each little/ Pitcher of milk, now empty/ She has folded/ Them back into her body as...