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The Applicant by Sylvia Plath places both men and women as victims in a society which disallows them any sense of free-will. To what extent to you agree with this view?

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Introduction

?The Applicant? places both men and women as victims in a society which disallows them any sense of free-will.? To what extent to you agree with this view? ?The Applicant? by Sylvia Plath is a poem centred on the idea that relationships between humans are only a regime to fill a physical need, and marriage is the only way to be free of a crippling lifestyle, and women are seen as being a set of appendages and functions, men as the consumer and worker, key to the success of the Marxist viewpoints ideal. It suggests a close connection between the capitalist economic system, the patriarchal family structure, and the general depersonalisation of human relations. The man and woman in the poem are portrayed as having limited to no free will in the society they live in and are victims of the social order. A constant theme of the poem is the inadequacy of a person; they have no personalities or major roles in society. The people in the poem are de-humanised, especially the woman, and their bodies being portrayed as just mechanisms. The voice asks the man if he has ?a brace or a hook? as if he needs to be held up like a puppet, and even questions his sexual identity by asking if he has ?a rubber crotch?. Suggesting his crotch may be rubber implies that it is only there for a mechanical function; to procreate, and has no other purpose. ...read more.

Middle

A way Plath removes identity from the man is simply by calling the poem ?The Applicant?. It suggests that there are many men in exactly the same position as him; he is nothing special, and because of the confronting tone of the voice ultimately forcing answers and reactions out of him, it is arguable that the man does not want to be just another part to make society work by conforming to the social code, as he is not taking actions independently without the reinforcement of the voice. However his options and self-pride are easily removed by the speaker?s cynical confrontations. ?The Applicant? in no way challenges the concept of a stereotypical Marxist life for a man and a woman; to get married. The woman of the poem, who is being advertised in a ?sales-pitch? like way, is not given a name; she is referred to in pronouns such as ?she? and ?it?. This completely depersonalises her and suggests she is just another link to make the ideal life for a ?normal? human, being the man?s satisfaction and last option to complete his life. It makes her, by Marx?s definition, a commodity; having a use value that satisfies a human need, in this case, a man?s need to have a wife. There is a flickering, short moment when the applicant seems to try to resist to conform when the speaker tells the applicant to ?stop crying?, but the threat of marriage being the ?last ...read more.

Conclusion

The eight stanzas of the poem are in pentastich, giving it a robotic and mechanical feel and this feeling links to when the woman almost turns into a wind up doll when she can “talk, talk, talk”. It is the clichéd view of women in an order where they have no resonance. She could be seen as her physical appearance being solely for the man’s pleasure to look at her and that she is the “poultice” for the mans “hole”, suggesting she is a medicine to heal him of his inadequacies; her existence is to be a part of this man and to marry him. ‘The Applicant’ portrays men and women as victims in a society where they have no free will. The voice of the poem is one of an authoritative figure, talking down to the applicant, manipulating his ‘choices’. The voice asks questions, creating the illusion that there are options for the people, but the cynical nature of the speaker makes the questions rhetorical and imperative; the individual’s lives are set and unchangeable. People move, but not forward, instead in a cyclical nature and it succumbs through generations. The world of the poem restrains and puts boundaries upon individuals to limit them to expected protocols and system of behaviour. There is no real meaning to life apart from being suitable for marriage and work in a factitious institution, there is no choice for men or women. They are trapped within to confines of the system, and their fragmented bodies, there is no chance of escape or progression within the social restraints. ...read more.

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