Sylvia Plath's Lady Lazarus

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Sylvia Plath’s autobiographical poem Lady Lazarus, at first glance can be considered merely self-pitying, however the questioning of gender and the poets’ experiences as a female writer, makes readers conscious to the fact that her concerns stem from a distinctively female viewpoint. As Barry points out, female writers protesting through literature is one of the ‘most practical ways of influencing everyday conduct and attitudes.’ Seen likewise within Wintering, the powerful presence of female figures supports the notion that Plath ‘aims to change actually existing social conditions’. A feminist critic might consider whether she also aims to remove the thought that ‘the continued social and cultural domination of males’ cannot be lessened.…show more content…
The repetition of ‘ash’ acts as a reference to the phrase ‘a phoenix rising from the ashes’. In Greek mythology, a phoenix is a powerful bird that is reborn by rising from the ashes, and therefore ‘ash’ could represent the patriarchy and what women want to emerge from. The semantic field of power ‘ash’, ‘gold’ and ‘rise’, is used to symbolise power and the invincibility of the female spirit. Similarly, the idea of gaining independence is evoked with ‘turn and burn’, as it implies a fighting process and the assonance establishes a determination to battle. Plath encourages women to be liberated and free from the perils of patriarchal ideology that restricts their freedom. The poet directly attacks the traditional passive behaviour expected of women in this…show more content…
The similar qualities between the two are made known. ‘The bees are all women’ highlights the power women exert in society, and here the use of ‘bees’ is significant because bee families are mainly male, with a ‘Queen Bee’ controlling at the head. The first stanza uses anaphora to open the second and third lines for rhythm and emphasis on the sweet ‘honey’ that the speaker possesses. The act of harvesting honey has symbolism of the birth of a new self, as with the rebirth of a phoenix in Lady Lazarus. The female speaker utilises her own qualities to emanate intrepidity for other women to feed off, therefore it would be seen as ‘the most effective way of changing the power relations between men and women’ given that female solidarity provides a source of empowerment. Perhaps this ‘honey’ that the speaker possesses is freedom as the final line of the poem makes reference to ‘flying’, with allusions to being elevated; away from the harm of the patriarchy. Additionally, the lyrical mood created in the last stanza is paired with jubilant imagery including ‘spring’ and ‘Christmas roses’ to support the idea of liberty. Plath describes women as having the ability to supply themselves with their own ‘light’ with ‘torch’, even though it can be ‘faint’. The speaker directs women to find their own place in the world, to become independent. Even a small
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