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How does Plath use imagery and symbolism to discuss the themes of life and death?

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Introduction

How does Plath use imagery and symbolism to discuss the themes of life and death? Ms.F.Pow Rebecca Lau In the poems Tulips and The Stones, Plath uses symbols, metaphors and imagery to discuss her point of views of life and death. She thinks white is color of peace and death, while red it a color of life and excitement. White symbolizes winter, which is also death and the state of Plath's mind. The imagery "look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in" sketches the picture of winter where every thing is still, quiet, and calm. This picture reflects the state of Plath's mind, stagnant. This is also one of the main reasons that Plath dislike the tulips, because the "tulips are too red"; they symbolize spring, and intrudes the "winter" of her mind. The tulips strive for their best to bloom, and that makes Plath feels shameful, since she has already given up trying. This shows that she doesn't want to change her perspectives of desiring death more than life. ...read more.

Middle

Her life has no meanings; everything is pain to her, which is why she desires death, since to her, it is the only way to get out of this pain and obtain eternal peacefulness. Although Plath is physically alive, she is mentally dead. In both poems The Stones and Tulips, she described herself as "a pebble", a non-living object. Even though her "rust-red engine" is still running, she has already become a "flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow" or "nobody". The imagery of the pebble suggests that it will be very hard to cure, to heal her since she is "dead" or was never alive. But the pebble imagery can also be saying that the anesthetist", "surgeons and "nurses" are refining her, polishing her into a more round and smooth, changing her to a more adorable person. She illustrates that there is never clear boundaries between things, even things that look so obvious, like life and death. Plath feels that she is tiny compared to this world. ...read more.

Conclusion

Plath thinks she still has the chance of recovery even though it seems very far and very hard to obtain. Referring back to the metaphor of the cargo boat "the water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea", she ends Tulips with "and comes from a country far away as health". She still can "taste" means she is still living, the imagery of the "sea" means that she is quite lost in a vast area for now, but there are millions of courses she can choose from, and soon one day, she will touch the land "health". This suggests that she still wants to recover and that she is just lost in the area between life and death, but will soon be back to the life side again. Both the poems Tulips and The Stones contain the message that she prefers death over life. Plath's poems are depressing, but her experiences can act as a memento for us, so we can strike a better balance between the views on life and death and make a better decision on things without hurting the people around us. ?? ?? ?? ?? English Coursework final draft 1/2 ...read more.

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