Past-War Period In 'Lady Lazarus' And ‘Daddy’

Sylvia Plath tried to commit suicide twice. The last time succeeding in killing herself at thirty. She is a poet who’s troubled life is portrayed through her poetry, having a great impact on society in the post-war period. Sylvia Plath attended Boston university being exceedingly intelligent, She had been writing poems since the age of eight for many magazines. She was also eight when her father died, a trauma to Plath which is shown throughout her poetry, alongside the trauma of world war two. In which Sylvia Plath took great interest in.

Through daddy and many of her other poems, she strips away the polite veneer during the post-war period. Through her writing, she illustrates many tensions that lay beneath the American life in the post-war period, the conjunction between women working in the labor force, and the end of the war when men came back to take over the workforce again. Women re-entering into being a housewife again. Sylvia Plath's poems made use of “relentless honesty,” She changed society through her poems, the feminist movement taking up Plath as a conventional female figure, making her an icon to their movement.

In 62-1963, Plath became depressed. Plath in her last month of her life produced some of her most relentless poetry. To which both daddy and Lady Lazarus were produced. A rebellion against conventional female roles as she expresses in one of her last diary entries 'I want, I think, to be omniscient. . . . I think I would like to call myself 'The girl who wanted to be God.' Yet if I were not in this body, where would I be? . . . But, oh, I cry against it. I am I--I am powerful, but to what extent? am I.'

There is a rhyme that is developed throughout the poem daddy, exhibited through the repeated oo sounds giving the piece an overall childish feel. A child’s uncontrolled anger at the masculine presence in her life, her father, husband, and mankind. Even the title ‘daddy’ establishes her childish cadence. The poem develops a rhyme, a singsong language, that of which is used in 'light verse' poems. The short lines and rhyme through the poem also establishes her as a childish figure under an oppressive authoritative father.

The poem “Daddy' has brought forth many emotions, from feminist praise of its anger towards male dominance to the immense emotion in Holocaust imagery. In the poem, Plath relates herself to the predicament of the Jews during the Nazi regime. Portraying herself as a Jew and her father as a Nazi. Comparing the oppression of women under male dominance with the oppression of Jews under the Nazi regime. Utilizing the Nazi metaphor as it expresses the authoritarian control that male dominance had over a woman, in a powerful and provoking way.

The father in the poem was more of a stifling masculine force than a person. ‘barley daring to breathe or achoo’ From this impression of the father, Plath develops an understanding that she must eliminate the father figure to be rid of the limitations that he places upon her. realizing she must kill her father she develops a sort of hysteria, represented through her use on enjambment, unfinished lines in this poem. Although the poem may be inspired by Hughes and Otto, it has a much deeper meaning that of limitations placed on an exceptional mind like Sylvia’s in a male dominant world. Exhibited when Plath has the burdens of motherhood placed upon her with little help from the husband, impacting the time she got to write and express her ideas on such a world. Plath admits in her poetry that, after attempting to kill herself to escape her predicament, she marries a man who was like a surrogate father to her, but he was just as much a vampire of her spirit as her controlling father —one who 'drank my blood for a year, / Seven years' Plath was married to the poet Ted Hughes for seven years. When she executes her father by driving a stake through her father’s heart, metaphorically she is driving a stake through all men by making him a Nazi and herself a Jew, breaking free of their masculine power over her.

Lady Lazarus is a biblical reference to Lazarus, a man who Jesus brought back from the dead. Whereas Lady has a much deeper feminist meaning, implying the resurrection of a female figure. A female That will rise to a position more powerful than that of a male.

I am your opus,

I am your valuable,

Plath implies and believes that men only respect and value her as an object, beautiful but hard and lifeless. Plath continues her metaphor of the Nazi regime from daddy. She exercises this metaphor again to express her feeling of male dominance over her. ‘my skin bright as a Nazi lampshade’ Jewish skins were used to make lampshades, Plath uses these horrifying metaphors to compare her own suffering to those in Nazi concentration camps. This historical inference portrays lady Lazarus inner struggle against male dominance.

In Lady Lazarus Plath refers to a ' big striptease' and in this act, woman are not powerful. Infront of 'the peanut-crunching crowd' Plath presents herself in a 'theatrical' way that is not self-defining. The reference to a striptease is meant to develop a realistic social context were Plath shows that women were exploited in her time and valued only for their looks. At the end of Lady Lazarus, Plath comes forth and threatens the male viewer exploiting her: 'Out of the ash / I rise with my red hair / And I eat men like air' Plath takes a tone of revenge, she warns man every were that being resurrected from the dead can make her powerful enough to rise against the men imprisoning her: gods, men, and Nazis who are all allegorical adumbrations of oppressive masculinity.

Plath's 'confessional' metaphors in her poems are a Romantic tale of victimization, whether its a person hurt by ruthless rationalized society were their actions are motivated by their values, and feelings. Or a feminist protest against a monolithic male oppressor.

'Lady Lazarus' and ‘Daddy’ are both 'confessional' poetry, placing the speaker in the middle of the poem, making their vulnerability and thoughts the embodiment of their community. Plath using her personal experiences as to illustrate bigger themes and subjects in her community.

Lady Lazarus' and 'Daddy', were two poems written just at the edge of sensibility and written with a harsh truth about society at the time, being written a month before she commits suicide. They both utilize imagery of the Nazi authoritarian rule over concentration camps, that serves as a metaphor to both poems illustrating the oppression of women (Jews) under men (Nazis).

Plath's two poems daddy and lady Lazarus express her arresting style and are excellent examples of her harsh but true examination of self and society. 

07 July 2022
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