Compare the Ways in Which James Joyce and Sylvia Plath Portray Intense Experience and Emotional State

Topics: Emotion, Sylvia Plath, Feeling Pages: 7 (2545 words) Published: April 3, 2013
Compare the ways in which James Joyce and Sylvia Plath portray intense experience and emotional states in their writing

Both writers portray intense experience and emotional state in their writing; this creates engaging emotive texts which creates imagery in the reader’s minds. James Joyce uses more subtle ways than Plath of creating intricate imagery and emotions for the reader through long descriptive writing in ‘Eveline’, a short story where a young woman is planning to run away from her violent father to marry a sailor but cannot follow through at the end. Sylvia Plath uses highly expressive writing which give a view into her mind and thoughts to create this experience for the reader. The poems are; ‘Tulips’ which is a poem written by Plath about her time in hospital where she was having her appendix removed shortly after miscarrying, ‘Daddy’ which is a rather provocative poem written not long before her suicide about a girl who’s father’s death deeply disturbed her and ‘You’re’ a poem describing her unborn child. Joyce portrays intense experience and emotional state in ‘Eveline’ through imagery and sensory language “She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. Her head was leaned against the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne” Joyce uses alliteration to emphasise key verbs by using repeated sounds which sound such as ‘she sat’ and ‘window watching’ the passive nature of these verbs connote uncertainty and guilt at the idea of leaving her home foreshadowing her inability to go through with her plans with Frank. ‘Invade’ violent military imagery is used to describe the night which connotes her fear and uncertainty, as when the evening draws on as does the time to fulfil her promise to Frank which she feels is in conflict with her duties as a daughter. Sensory imagery is also used, ‘in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne’ this gives the reader a more intense experience by showing detail and making the reader use their imagination. Plath also uses sensory language alongside elemental language in Tulips to portray an intense experience and emotional state “The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,” Plath uses elemental language of the sea to liken her dreamlike state to being lost at sea and the tulips in this case as dangerous to her ideal state of mind pulling her away from the comfort she finds in nothingness, this portrays an intense experience and emotional state to the reader as it uses elemental language to show the power that this has over her. Both of the writers use colour as a way of portraying intense experience and emotional state, Joyce uses sight and colour to create detailed description “not like their little brown houses but bright brick houses with shining roofs” this use of the colour adjective brown is to show that they aren’t rich as this is a dull colour for functional use not aesthetics, this colour contrasts with the ‘bright brick houses with shining roofs’ as these buildings appear to be newer and more expensive than theirs shown by the pre-modifying adjectives ‘bright’ and ‘shining’, this shows the change to her childhood play area from theirs to the man from Belfast showing her childhood has ended. The difference in colour also shows the divide between the classes, the use of the personal possessive pronoun ‘their’ supports the contrast shown by colour and shows that she feels separated from the more wealthy residents and that there is a sense of community between her and her neighbours. Not only do the colours and pre-modifying adjectives used create imagery but they also show contrast and allow us to understand her feelings of separation from the wealthier neighbours. In Plath’s poem Tulips colour is used extensively “I could hear them breathe lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby. Their redness talks to my wound” white is used in this poem as a colour that represents nothingness and comfort, it is the...

Bibliography: Joyce, James
Grant Richards Ltd, June 1914
Plath, Sylvia.
HarperCollins Publishers 1999
David’s Teaching Blog
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