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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 ‘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. The voice of the poem has a formal, interrogative tone and begins the poem as an interview for ‘the applicant’ asking, “First, are you our sort of person?”, the person they are looking for being someone who will conform to being a cog, without confrontation, in the bureaucratic marketplace; being engaged in the exchange of marrying into another life. The speaker uses first-person pronouns such as “we” and “our” so instinctively becomes the spokesperson for a larger organisation that has control over the man’s life, work and marriage. This would be coherent with Marxist ideal group of the elites.

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  There are some similarities to the way the man and woman are perceived in the poem; they are both vulnerable and somewhat useless in the system, however they are both needed to be passive and accepting to it too. Underneath the typical expectations of the man and woman, they are similar in the fact that they are both naked to begin with. However, the woman is “naked as paper”, suggesting she is pure, innocent and the perfect wife but also soulless and blank. She is blank so that she can be moulded into the role she needs to fill ...

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