Even in her earlier poems, Sylvia Plath displays an unhealthy preoccupation with sex, madness, morbidity and obscurity. Discuss. There seem to be a number of common themes running through all of Plaths poems, which encapsulate her personal attitudes and feelings of life at the time she wrote them. Of these themes, the most prevalent are: sex, madness, morbidity and obscurity. The whole concept of sex to Plath appears to be a very disturbed and resentful one. This is conveyed strongly through the poem Maudlin (a poem about self-pity) in which Plath evokes her bitterness toward masculinity with the aid of the two characters, the Virgin and Jack. Jack is described as having a crackless egg and being navel-knit (ie: cold hearted and impregnable). He is given an arrogant, macho image too: With a claret hogshead to swig, he kings it. Plaths sourness becomes apparent when Jacks lifestyle of luxury is compared to the repressed and disturbed life of suffering which the sleep-talking virgin leads. The idea of sleep-talking evokes her pain and suffering, leaking from her subconscious. Her torment does not end on the inside however, according to Plath who describes further physical and mental torture endured by women who painfully beautify themselves for the pleasure of men like Jack: at the price of a pin-stitched skin fish-tailed girls purchase each white leg. Furthermore, Plath justifies the virgins choice to endure the pain: The sign of the hag (the virgins fear of aging). Another poem which is strongly sexually orientated, but in a more mechanical and lustful sense, is Night Shift. The brute physicality conveyed through onomatopoeia in the poem impregnates the feeling of primeval sexuality in which violence is interlaced. This overall effect arises as a result of the images conjured up by words and phrases such as, heart, beating, drumming up, sound, ground, pounding, thudding s…
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