• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Commentary on Plath's A Commentary on Plaths The Surgeon at 2am

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

A Commentary on Plath's The Surgeon at 2am Fraught with the stress of depression combined with the pain of a recent miscarriage, Plath was preoccupied with the concept of hospitalisation when writing 'The Surgeon at 2am'. Taking on the persona of a male surgeon, the controlling role to her more passive role as patient, she explores the concept as the surgeon as master and alludes to a higher power in explaining the apparent magic and complexity of the human body. The title of this poem introduces us to its major subject matter, as is typical of Plath's poetry. The first two lines of the first stanza appear subjective and clinical, introducing us to the idea of the surgeon being a man of science. The line 'hygienic as heaven' also alludes to death, a commonplace occurrence in any hospital. This is followed through by the reference to the death of the microbes. This also gives an air of control to the poem and allows the reader to understand the controlling role of the surgeon as he performs his work. This stanza also introduces the idea of the surgeon operating as a higher power behind the scenes; 'a snowfield, frozen and peaceful' explains that he is all alone in his work and that, with the patient being under anaesthetic, he has total control. ...read more.

Middle

These metaphors also demonstrate the dehumanisation of the body on which he operates. The idea of an all-consuming task also comes through in the line 'I am up to my elbows in it': this gives the blood and body a more active role and gives almost the impression of it taking control of the surgeon, particularly in the line 'Still it seeps me up'. The surgeon appears almost reluctant to 'seal off' the mass of veins and leave the garden, perhaps insinuating that he feels more comfortable in his 'garden' than in the real world, where people are not merely bodies under a mask of 'white clay.' In the second part of the stanza, the surgeon rhapsodises about the skill of the Romans, showing his respect for logic and discipline. Proclaiming the body to be a 'Roman thing', he places it on the same pedestal as 'Aqueducts' and 'the Baths of Caracella', extolling its capacity for sensible routine (for example, in the pumping of the heart), while, curiously, paying little attention to its capacity for human emotion. We may perhaps infer from this that Plath felt dehumanised by her surgeons when hospitalised. The enigmatic last line 'It has shut its mouth on the stone pill of repose' refers perhaps to the body being in an anaesthetised state. ...read more.

Conclusion

Perhaps through the pain that induced surgery, they have undergone a sort of purgatory and hence their soul has been cleansed. Morphia makes reference both to morphine, as in the drug, and Morpheus, the Roman god of sleep and dreams, yet another reference to the Roman age. The surgeon seems puzzled by the after-effects of surgery; that under the 'gauze sarcophagi' lie individuals, floating on a morphine high. The 'dawn drafts' which Plath refers to further allow the reader to understand that the patients are, under the effect of morphine, floating inches from the ceiling. Making reference once again to an ancient society, the 'gauze sarcophagi' give the impression that the patients are, in their present state, neither dead or alive, in this ward where even the 'night lights' reminds the surgeon of human gore. The poem finishes much as it started, with the surgeon, having played the role of gardener, Historian and scientist, resuming his role of control as a higher being. 'I am the sun' indicates that the surgeon is the life-giving force in the hospital, most important for the continuation of the patients' lives. This too may refer to deities in ancient societies such as the Aztecs. The last line further cements everything we believe about the surgeon: safe in his position of power and control, he is happy only when the people around him are being bodies, in a 'shuttered' state, and acknowledging listlessly the power and magic of his work. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sylvia Plath section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Sylvia Plath essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Sylvia Plath,

    4 star(s)

    "Not God but a swastika So black no sky could squeak through" The apparent contrast of God and the 'black swastika' can be described to depict the duality of the image of the male the speaker is addressing. On one hand he is her God, someone powerful and dominant, but in a positive way.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Present the way in which imprisonment is presented in 'The Bell Jar' The ...

    3 star(s)

    They were not classified as good or bad because they did not "play the game" for male attention. Thus, the good girls and the bad girls were classified and identified in terms of their relationship to men and society; they were not given value in terms of their own personalities, talents, and endeavours.

  1. Sylvia Plath; The Imperfect Perfectionist.

    "Any more, black shoe. In which I have lived like a foot" The foot and shoe metaphors have a lot of importance in Plath's work, as she is able to relate to them very easily to help her present her feelings.

  2. Investigation Into The Theme of Entrapment in The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

    She was a perfectionist at housekeeping as she had always been at her college work and at writing, but at other times the routine infuriated her and the 'viciousness in the kitchen' that she describes in Lesbos sets in. At times she revelled in being "cowlike" and maternal, but resentment

  1. Sylvia Plath's presentation of parent-child relationships

    This is backed up by Plath's comparison of her father to a Nazi oppressor, "With your Luftwaffe...", "And your Aryan eye, bright blue./Panzer man, panzer man, O you" This is interesting as we know that her father, although Austrian was not actually a Nazi, so even a tenuous racial link

  2. How do poets use ‘voice’ to instil their poems with personality? Consider with reference ...

    A part she can never escape: "Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through." (80) Plath's voice comes through in a number of cunning ways here. It seems as though she is addressing her father, and therefore speaks in the first person singular for example: "I used to pray to recover you."

  1. I Wanna Be Special : Plath and Nazi Germany.

    The difference lies in the fact that the slave totals come from many years, while Jewish total are only from five years. While slavery was still common, it was possible for a slave to escape relative harm; He (or she)

  2. 'The Power of Plath's Imagery comes from her surprising, often controversial imagery' How far ...

    Also in Hawk Roosting ?My manners are tearing off heads? shows through a different light the same strand of aggression and viciousness. Plath's 'Daddy' allows the reader to have a detailed insight into the mind of the persona. The beginning of the poem starts like a nursery rhyme with a rhythm of the repeating assonant sound of 'oo'.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work