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One can observe a profound psychological temperament in two of Sylvia Plath’s creative works. These two artistic creations are the poems Daddy and Lazarus Lady. There is evidence to show a strong psychological bent considering the way the author combined factual information about her personal life and the way she wanted her readers to interpret the said information using her own subjective frame of reference.
Certain information about her personal life that people can gather through research strengthened the assertion made earlier regarding the psychological temperament of the aforementioned works. One can observe a strong psychological disposition in these two poems after considering three verifiable facts, such as, Plath’s troubled mind, her attempt to vilify her father as a Nazi sympathizer, and the use of violent words centered on the ideas of death and murder.
Plath’s Troubled and Suicidal Mind
There is an easily accessible road that allows for a quick development of a supporting argument justifying the claim made earlier regarding the psychological nature of Plath’s two poems. It is via the use of biographical research that enables the student or the analyst tasked to interpret Plath’s creative works to immediately understand the mental component of the creative process. Using this route, it does not take long to discover the tragic end of the gifted poet.
In a book entitled The Nazi Card: Nazi Comparison at the Beginning of the Cold War, the author provided harrowing details about Plath’s mental state before she committed suicide (Johnson 171). However, an indirect way of ascertaining her struggles with mental health issues can be had by examining the way he framed her ideas in the poem Lady Lazarus.
In Lady Lazarus, Plath was not angling the positive aspect of the idea that usually comes forth when mentioning the name Lazarus. She referred to the dark side of the story of the biblical Lazarus, when the character died and was entombed. She wanted to die, and she made it clear that no one should attempt to revive her, contrary to the message of Lazarus’ tale when his body defeated death and decay. In fact, in her poem, her suicidal thoughts were in full display when she expressed her sense of worthlessness when she wrote “what a trash, to annihilate each decade” (Plath, “Lady Lazarus”). Her troubled mind formed one aspect of the argument regarding the psychological bent of her two poems.
A Forceful Attempt to Vilify His Father as a Nazi Sympathizer
The secondary argument supporting the claim of the psychological temperament in Plath’s works is based on the interpretation of her state of mind when she forcefully vilified her father as a Nazi sympathizer. After using terms to signify that her father empathized with Hitler and Nazism, she punctuated her statements with the following line: “brute heart of a brute like you” (Plath, “Daddy”). A normal person usually offers praise to his or her parents.
Thus, her abnormal thinking process was revealed for all to see when she dishonored her father’s memory. It is important to highlight this realization, because she was not merely complaining about a wrinkle in her relationship with her father, she expressed her thoughts through a murderous rage.
The psychological bent of her poems was not simply manifested in the criticisms she made against her father, because it was also revealed when she fabricated claims that her father was a sympathizer or a member of Hitler’s army. In a book entitled Sylvia Plath: Poetry and Existence, the author argued that there is no evidence linking Otto Plath, the poet’s father as having served as a soldier in Hitler’s army.
In fact, the author said that the elder Plath immigrated to the United States when he was a teenager and published a book in 1934 (Holbrook 292). Once again the poet demonstrated an intense psychological temperament when she made up stories to amplify her hatred against her father. Her poem is probably one of the most bitter examples of how a daughter tried to destroy any connection she had with her father.
Violent and Foul Language
The final argument strengthening the claim made earlier is based on Plath’s use of violent and foul language. The perverseness of Plath’s language is magnified by the realization that she and her family were at the receiving end of a volley of foul and violent words. Her first target was the memory of her father, and she wrote: “Daddy, I have had to kill you” (Plath, “Daddy”). This verse become more unnerving after considering the title of the poem, because it disarmed the reader in the beginning hoping that the lines evokes ideas of the lovely bond that exists between a father and his daughter.
At the end, she aimed her scathing words like terrible weapons at the center of her heart. She wrote: Dying is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well”, as if begging to for death to take her away (Plath, “Lady Lazarus”). One can argue that only a deeply disturbed mind can manufacture this type of language and direct it not at the enemy, but to her father and to herself. There was no beauty and grace in her choice of words.
In order to prevent any hope of reconciliation or forgiveness, she severed her connection with her father in one of the most heartbreaking ending to a literary piece that was ever made when she wrote: “Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through” (Plath, “Daddy”). It was the final warning that her mind was about to break.
A claim was made that Plath’s two poems Daddy and Lazarus Lady had a deep and disturbing psychological bent. This claim was supported by three arguments. First, the psychological temperament of her artistic pieces can be interpreted through the revelation of her troubled mind and eventually her decision to take her own life. Second, it was amplified by the fact that she made up stories in order to dishonor her father. Third, the psychological nature of Plath’s poems was revealed in the way she utilized violent and foul language not only to discredit her father but also as a weapon that she used against herself.
Without a doubt these are examples of psychological poetry, because the author allowed her readers to see the state of her troubled mind. She also shed light on the kind of mental anguish she went through before she committed suicide. It is therefore impossible to interpret these two artistic works unless these poems are examined from a psychological point of view, and at the same time, acknowledge the author’s profound psychological disposition when she made both.
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Holbrook, David. Sylvia Plath: Poetry and Existence. Bloomsbuy Academic, 2013.
Johnson, Brian. The Nazi Card: Nazi Comparisons at the Beginning of the Cold War. Lexington Books, 2017.
Plath, Sylvia. “Daddy.” Poetry Foundation. Web.
—. “Lazarus Lady.” Poetry Foundation. Web.