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Analysis of "The Applicant" by Sylvia Plath

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Introduction

´╗┐Applicant analysis At first, a reader might think the title 'The Applicant' refers to a job applicant. Perhaps one will visualize a job interview scenario in which the applicant is sitting across the desk from someone who expects her to sell herself as a good candidate for the role. Upon further reading, it seems that the role being applied for is that of a wife-and that the applicant is not being offered any chance to speak for herself; it is more as if this role is being sold to her or told to her, as if she has little choice in the matter-or perhaps the speaker of the poem is meant to be a version of the applicant herself, in a snide attempt to talk herself into acquiescing to a role that does not suit her. ...read more.

Middle

that she was not the type who could ever fill the role of wife successfully, because she could not help but to perceive the role as docile and vapid and otherwise weak and she could not help but to disdain and despise such traits, as well as the men who covet them. If one reads 'The Applicant' and thinks of the applicant as a man applying for a wife, notice how the descriptive language in the first two stanzas of the poem presents this man as weak, sniveling, crying, needy, and unworthy of respect. Of course, Plath also harshly derides the role of wife or at least the generic clichés and conventional expectations associated with being a docile helpmate, almost like some kind of walking, talking appliance. ...read more.

Conclusion

Notice that by the poem's final line, the repeated question, 'Will you marry it, marry it, marry it', although still seemingly phrased as a question, no longer has a question mark at the end. It now ends with a period, essentially turning it into a declarative statement or a pronouncement that is just pretending to be a question. Over the course of the poem, the pitch to the applicant has shifted from soft sell to hard sell, underscoring the finality of the poem's unpleasant perspective that whether or not the applicant personally likes the services (generic helpmate traits), the product (wife), or the contract (marriage) being presented, abandoning this set of roles or revolting against the contract is not an option. ...read more.

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