The Implications of Plath's "Arrival of the Bee Box"
In the poem, "The Arrival of the Bee Box," Sylvia Plath uses a metaphor to
represent the darker aspects of the subconscious that are leaking into her conscious mind:
The box is locked, it is dangerous.
I have to live with it overnight
And I can't keep away from it.
There are no windows, so I can't see what is in there.
There is only a little grid, no exit.
It is inevitable that Plath will need to face the bees that lie in the box. She is "appalled"
at the thought of letting them out. She says "I am no source of honey/So why should they
turn on me," but she is still clearly convinced that they pose a threat. She suggests that
the bees taken separately would not be too difficult to handle, but that now they are like a
"Roman mob" and could kill her. Plath emphasizes the fact that she has "ordered" this
box in the first and fifth stanzas. This suggests that she knew she would have to deal with
what the bee box represents.
The bees that are locked up in the box symbolize the swarming and potentially
destructive chaos that Plath can feel within herself. The bees have the ability to inflict
pain on her and sting her. She longs to take control over the bees to save herself from any
more pain. In the fifth stanza Plath does assert dominance over the bees in the box:
"They can die, I need feed them nothing, I am the owner." She is trying to convince
herself of her own strength by placing herself in a position of power.
There is a correlation between the bees and her father. Her father Otto Plath was
an expert on insects--especially bees. The whole series of bee poems relates to her father
(like "The Bee Keeper's Daughter"). If the bees are locked in the box, then much of what
she is feeling is connected to her father. Perhaps she is trying to place herself in control
of the troubling memory of her father. Plath needs to