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

Explore the way the theme of old age is presented in "Old ladies home" by Sylvia Plath

Extracts from this document...


Explore the ways in which the theme of old age is presented in the texts you have studied. Old age is a growing problem in today?s society- we all have to worry about how we are going to provide for our rapidly aging population. Charities such as Age UK work to try and provide the best possible life for those who have reached old age- whilst the government struggles to keep all the current provisions for the elderly available. For many years, writers have felt it important to express their personal opinions on the topic of growing old- yet even they don?t agree- some celebrating the prospect of a growing life expectancy and the privileges that come with being elderly- whilst others have an extremely pessimistic view, believing that once they officially become an ?old aged pensioner? then they become a lower being without any dignity or individuality. One of the texts written on the theme of old age is ?Old Ladies Home? by Sylvia Plath, who offers a very grim presentation of care home life- where the residents are weak, fragile and neglected. The structure of this poem highlights this very well, the first stanza describing the women?s frailty; the second their lack of activity and loss of contact with society; and the third- describing how these old women are running out of time- that death is waiting just around the corner. We are immediately shown Plath?s negative view of old age, by the fact that she points out the segregation of the women in the title of the poem. ...read more.


Beetles are very shy creatures, who retreat at the first sign of danger to find shelter- which relates to the women?s vulnerability and dependence on others but also contrasting what they do? these women do not run to find shelter, they run to escape it as they gain a greater sense of warmth and freedom outside, despite the fact that the stones on the wall only ??keep a little heat??. Within the first stanza the women?s weakness/frailty is highlighted, through Plath?s manipulation of literary devices- mainly similes and personification. Plath informs us that the women are ??Frail as antique earthenwear??, highlighting that they have been neglected- just as many antiques are by people who don?t realize their true value. Antiques should be valued for their age and rarity, just as these women deserve care and respect for the wisdom they can offer society? instead, just like when antiques are locked away due to being ?out of fashion?; these women are seen as a burden, locked away in this care home instead of being under the care of their families. At the end of this stanza, Plath informs us that old women ?creep out? and ?prop themselves up against the wall whose stones keep a little heat?. One interpretation of this is that the women are seeking warmth for their bodies to make up for the coldness they feel either literally, the care home being cold and chilling for them or symbolically, to make up for the coldness they might feel inside- due to the treatment they have ...read more.


The owl is a nocturnal creature who only comes out in the dark, so their call is almost the call summoning these women into the darkness; summoning them to death. Death, which is a recurrent theme throughout this stanza is personified on line five as ?that bald-head buzzard? that ?Stalls in halls where lamp wick/ shortens with each breath drawn.? A buzzard is a bird of prey- a scavenging bird, similar to the vulture. Vultures are now for circling their prey- in this case, the buzzard which represents death is simply waiting for all the strength to come out of it?s prey- the women- before it strikes and the unfortunate thing is these old women have no means of escape from this terrible and unjust death. At the end of this poem, Plath creates a very dark, melancholic feel through the use of the analogy of the lamp wick shortening with each breath drawn. The word breath is repeated here, having first been used on the line ??One breath might shiver to bits?. The repetition is here being used to emphasize how important breathing is in maintaining life- if we did not breath, our bodies would cease to function and we would die, therefore reinforcing the idea that each breath these women take might be their last. The analogy of the lamp wick shortening represents how their light of life could go out any minute- the flame representing their life whilst the wick represents their strength? and once their strength runs out, the light of life will be extinguished ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE 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 GCSE Sylvia Plath essays

  1. The central theme of both the poems is old age. Sylvia Plath and Jenny ...

    She seems to be unhappy and sad of being old "rewards me with tears and agitation of the hand". The mirror and the lake reflect the ladies old age. In first paragraph the mirror say " I am not cruel only truthful" and in the second paragraph the lake says " I see her back and reflect it faithfully".

  2. What happens in the story? Superman and Paula Brown's New Snowsuit is a short ...

    He swings her into the air, and when he speaks there is "a big love in his voice". She obviously loves him and likes to think that Superman is lodging in her home, disguised. The setting - time and place In this story, both time and place are very important.

  1. "Mirror", "Beautiful Old Age" and "Warning" - a comparison.

    Lawrence has described ageing as a wonderful moment of life and his poem "Beautiful Old Age" shows this. On the other hand, "Warning", written by Jenny Joseph is a very extravagant poem. She hasn't written from experience, but yet thinks that to grow old is a life to act like she has never done before.

  2. How do Hughes and Hardy both use memory in their poems?

    He feels her ghost calling him outside to the garden. Maybe this is something she did when she was alive, so he is imagining that she is still alive and living in the house with him. This is what happens when someone who has been around you for a long time dies.

  1. A Trapped Life: The Autobiographical Elements of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar.

    The events in Plath's life are parallel to the events that Esther faces in the novel. Plath wrote from her own life experiences and understood the descent into madness because she her self eventually went mad. In writing about Plath's falling out, Wagner stated, "This depression that was endemic in

  2. Discuss the presentation of death within Plath's poetry, commenting upon how your view compares ...

    She also says that "Against the ominousness of death the speaker finds consolation not only in a keen appreciation of the beauty of her surroundings but also in the knowledge that her writing will help her to transcend the limits imposed on her life and thereby achieve some kind of

  1. Frozen Eyes -Explore and analyse the use of imagery of death and violence in ...

    Thus this method of objectification, distinguishes how she cannot feel love. Just as a paper is opaque, Plath's ability to receive love is also hindered. I found that there was a similar resonance of insecurity in the Linkin Park song: 'Crawling'.

  2. Chirality in chemistry - without 4-coordinate carbon.

    Any object that is different from its reflection is said to be chiral. Otherwise, it is called achiral. The left hand and the right hand are chiral, whereas the water glass is achiral. This geometric phenomenon is called chirality. Basically, chirality is "handedness," that is the existence of left/right opposition.

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