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Examine the cultural theme of motherhood as portrayed in “You’re” and “Metaphors”.

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Introduction

Examine the Cultural Theme of Motherhood as Portrayed in "You're" and "Metaphors". The two poems, "You're" and "Metaphors" are both written by Sylvia Plath, who at the time of writing was expecting her first baby. Sylvia Plath was a confessional poet whose poems were inspired by her personal life. She experienced a very traumatic childhood that started with the death of her father when she was only eight years old, and was followed two years later by an accident in which she nearly drowned. Later on in life her marriage to Ted Hughes got into difficulties and ended when she discovered that he was seeing another woman. She then tried to commit suicide for the third attempt, and this time was successful. Her unhappiness seemed to free her poetic genius and was also the inspiration to many of her poems which chart the complexities of her daily life. She became a beacon for women everywhere. These two poems are both like riddles, as the reader doesn't know the subject of the poem until they have finished reading and have worked it out for themselves. Her poems are often difficult to understand as she was writing them for herself and they are very close comparisons to her own feelings and emotions. Although these poems were written at about the same point in her life they both have different subject matters. The poem "You're" is based around the baby and how the baby is feeling whilst she is pregnant, whereas the second poem, "Metaphors" is describing how she is feeling about being pregnant. ...read more.

Middle

Even images that would be associated with harm, for example, the sprat in the pickle jug are seen in this poem as positive images. The sprat in the pickle jug suggests a feeling of being trapped and locked away, however Sylvia Plath has used it to show that the baby needs space and freedom. This emphasises the baby's development. However when she writes the poem "Metaphors" she is concentrating on her own feelings and not the baby. She describes the way she sees herself while she is pregnant and doesn't mention her feelings towards her unborn baby like she did in "You're". The poem "Metaphors" is a more self-centred poem than "You're" because she has concentrated on her own feelings rather than her baby. You can tell from the title that the poem is going to contain lots of metaphors and that she is looking for images that resemble her during pregnancy. These metaphors are both positive and negative. She starts the poem in a happy and comic way by describing herself as a big and heavy elephant or house. "An elephant, a ponderous house." This image can be seen in both a positive and a negative way. It can be seen first as a symbol of her strength as it is describing her as being as sturdy and as strong as a house or an elephant. In can then be seen in a negative way because she is slow and fat. ...read more.

Conclusion

In "You're" she is continually changing her mind and describing things differently. At first her baby is a 'clown', then 'moon-skulled', then a 'fish', then a 'thumbs down sign'. If we take the time to work out what she is trying to describe we can see that she is thinking of the position of the baby, the condition it is in, and how it is fighting against the threat of death. Overall I think that these two poems are very similar in the style that they are written however they are views of two different sides of one person. "You're" is more fun and imaginative and she is concentrating on the baby rather than herself. However "Metaphors" is more realistic and life like and she is thinking about herself and she is being very self-centred. For Sylvia Plath nothing was simple. In many of her poems she looks at the contradictions in her life between her role as dutiful daughter, a mother, a wife, and her duty and rights as a creative artist. From reading these two poems I feel that she is quite at home with her motherhood, yet there are still some sombre elements in these poems where doubts about her role appear. From reading these two poems I am now aware that there are two different views to pregnancy that are both good and bad. I like the way that Sylvia Plath uses extreme and impacting images to describe her feelings and emotions, and I feel that these poems are well worth reading. ...read more.

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