'Individuality In Sylvia Plath's Initiation'

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In “Initiation,” Sylvia Plath tells the story of a girl, Millicent, and her search for acceptance in the wrong place, and her eventual discovery regarding the importance of individuality. To accomplish this, Plath uses bird imagery, which chronicles Millicent’s transformation into one who values individuality as opposed to conformity. She uses “flock” to describe the sorority and club mentality portrayed in the piece, and “heather birds” to symbolize an individual. However, while these piece is grounded in a young girl’s search for acceptance, as evident in the words “Millicent had waited for acceptance, longer than most,” the piece can also be viewed as a microcosm of society. This is true as, similar to the sorority within the piece, the “select flock”, or the group in which most desire to be within larger-scale society, looks down on those who are “a bit too different,” a phrase which a member of the sorority uses to describe a girl who had not been chosen to join the…show more content…
She speaks to an entire train full of people, representing general society, but her attention and focus falls to the man who responds differently than the rest, representing the individual. She learns of the “heather birds”, an image which she carries with her throughout the rest of the piece, and an image which serves as Millicent’s turning point, and an image which serves as a prime example of the bird imagery within the piece. Plath then utilizes bird imagery to describe the sorority, which translates to general society, as, “birds in a flock, one like the other, all exactly alike.” Upon this realization, Millicent decides to not join the sorority, a decision which sparks the phrase, “her own private initiation had just begun.” This line concludes the piece, a line which makes clear the choice to explore individuality and act against the wishes of a larger social
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