Critical Analysis of Poetry by Sylvia Plath: Daddy, Lady Lazarus and Ariel

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For years, the collection of poems Ariel By Sylvia Plath has been used for educational purposes and a symbol of American literary. Known for its dark humor and terrorizing experience growing up and in her adulthood, Ariel has taken the world’s literature by surprise, winning at least 3 notable awards worldwide. If you are a sucker for good poems, Ariel might just be the perfect read for you - here are 5 reasons why Ariel is the book for you!

Understanding the crisis of adulthood

Have you ever wonder what it would be like to live your long longed adulthood? The choices that would impact your path as an adult, questions that would make you think “What if…” and think to yourself at night the path of uncertainty that awaits you

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Well, in Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar Plath echoes the concept of adulthood strangely and in an eerily manner:

There will come a time when I must face myself at last. Even now I dread the big choices which loom up in my life — what college? What career? I am afraid. I feel uncertain. What is best for me? What do I want? I do not know.

As a confessional poet, we notice how Plath expresses her overwhelming upbringing and first experience stepping into adulthood. Being very transparent to her audience, she visualizes the reality of adulthood and showing the notion of being in control without knowing how to handle anything, which often relates to most of us.

The exploitation of your own creativity

Universally, poems are known for their creativity and meanings behind the poems made by the poet themselves. A unique poet like Plath uses symbolism like “fat god watch” to call a newborn infant and “cow-heavy and floral” to refer her own mother. Through these special features of poems, it teaches readers to think beyond the words said and rather know the context and reason behind the poem itself.

For Plath, everyday objects became an inspiration in certain ways. Like “A new statue in a drafty museum”, “A shadow in a mirror”, “A slab of soap”, or many more of our everyday objects became somewhat important and takes part in her poems. The poem itself teaches you to go beyond the ‘universal truth’ and find deeper meanings somewhere there isn’t one.

An in-depth exploration of emotions

With that being said, Plath depends greatly on her unique perspectives on emotions through her use of words. A few months before Plath committed suicide at the age of 30, she has been writing a collection of poems which was published 2 years after her unfortunate death. Going through such a complicated and a roller-coaster ride of feelings, Ariel (her last collection of poems) embodies the honesty and imagination Plath experienced during those dark times.

In one of her most powerful poems, Lady Lazarus, she took the audience in the roller coaster ride of emotions with her as they read the poem. Lazy Lazarus itself talks about the time where Plath tried to take her own life through the symbolism of the biblical character, Lazarus.

I rise with my red hair

And I eat men like air.

Being a testament poem that she intended it to be, this poem has become a significant milestone for countless readers who are trying to fight against issues of frustration, trauma, and sexuality thanks to Plath’s transparency and bravery to tell her side of the story especially post- WW2.

Her importance in American Literature History

As she is a popular poem worldwide she has made a significant impact on American society. Plath’s significance to American history comes from the excellence of her writing and the troublesome experience of a mid-twentieth-century woman.

Though her poems are full of hatred and trauma, Plath sees her readers as her witnesses to the mistreatment of Plath by her father, Husband, and life itself. Not only does she tells her life using a poem, but shes also uses her poems as a tool to express her emotions and past events in her life that some would say inexpressible.

Her poems mirror the haunting past of America...

Not only does Plath’s work mirrors her life but Plath also highlights the inequality of sex-based roles and psychiatric treatment make her important to American history. Though Plath is famous for her poems like The Colossus and Ariel, she uses her only novel, The Bell Jar, and journals and letters, to describe the social and cultural history of America through her personal experience and using techniques such as metaphors, similes, and symbolism to represent American History.

Being so popular in the UK, after the publication of her poems like “Daddy” and “Lady Lazarus”, the US was questioned with the treatment of women and the impact of World War 1 in relation to the victims (Jewish). Plath proves to be fearless from facing suicide, abuse, and mass murder she rather breaks the silence by using her creativity.

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Critical Analysis of Poetry by Sylvia Plath: Daddy, Lady Lazarus and Ariel. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 17, 2024, from
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