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The work of the confessional poet Sylvia Plath.

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Introduction

The work of the confessional poet Sylvia Plath relates closely to issues that are the concerns of audiences today, forty years after her death. The relevance of her poems lies in the fact that, despite her cultural context of America and Europe in the 1950s and 60s, she writes about issues such as male/female relationships, power and the role of women in society in ways that resonate with readers living in a contemporary world of inequality and conflict. On the surface her poems might not engage "fools", those who do not look beyond the privileged image of Plath's madness. However, "sages", those who look beyond the superficial, will see Plath's power and artistry in her poetic text construction - which she worked at constantly. While it is possible to read Plath's work from an author-centred position, examining the way her poems were affected by her shaky mental health, a world-context-centred reading is much more rewarding. ...read more.

Middle

and "Bland-mannared, asking / Little or nothing." Readers today can see a different, deeper meaning in the final stanza if they look at the poem from a feminist perspective. When Plath writes: "We shall by morning Inherit the earth. Our foot's in the door. She might well be looking at the future progress of the women's movement. Also relating to feminism, in "Burning the Letters", Plath writes about her own existence, although the subject is probably the act of burning manuscripts of Ted Hughes, her husband, after they had a fight - "This fire may lick and fawn, but it is merciless: / A glass case". She represents herself as a fire that is overwhelming, and merciless against men. Then she shows that she is like a glass case, beautiful yet very fragile. Many women might be like this, with a ferocious attitude as many wives are, yet they easily get hurt because they cannot overcome the unequal power relationships that exist in society with many marriages ending in divorce. ...read more.

Conclusion

I've killed one man, I've killed two---- The vampire who said he was you And drank my blood for a year," to represent her feelings about these men, both of whom have harmed her in some way. Feminists can relate to this poem in a different way, to see the poem as a protest poem against the gender relationships as "Daddy" is about revenge that she wants to impose with a "cooing tenderness" (Alvarez) on Ted Hughes and even her dead father. A continuity of violence in relationships exists from Plath's time to the present and readers can relate closely to this with stories or their own experience. Such examples include but are not limited to domestic violence, feminist issues and divorce settlements. In "Lady Lazurus", Plath combines the historical and bibliographical allusions with an extensive use of craft to produce a poem that is relevant to the western society during the 20th century. Death and gender issues arise in our modern society, and "Lady Lazarus" relates to this using Plath's story as the example. ...read more.

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