I will demonstrate this through my texts of; Little Fugue, and Morning Song both poems written by Sylvia Plath; the movie, Love Actually; and the book, Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce.
The most intereting aspect of this string of thoughts is that everyone seems to interpret Plath from their own perspectives: people who feel strongly about the the Holocaust being a event unique to Jewry protest anyone else referencing it in their work; feminists argue that the Holocaust references have something to do with rape (??? if you can show me where, in her memoirs, she mentions being abused please let me know); and so on. The important aspect of her work is she was from the school of "confession" poets. This stuff is about her life. It should be interpreted from Plath's perspective, not from the perspective of a reader with ulterior motives: clearly Lady Lazarus is about suicide, written by a lady suffering mentally, and about to commit the ultimate tragic act. The Nazi refernces are about her mental torture, and the insignificance of the human body after death.
What a great site. "Lady Lazarus" is also one of my favorite SP poems. I don't think the Holocaust interpretation should be overly emphasized. But it is a powerful theme of this poem. As has been observed however, there are several themes present. Obviously her mental illness and subsequent suicide attempts is one of the more important themes of this poem: "And like the cat I have nine times to die. This is Number Three." There are three verified times that we know for sure she tried to commit suicide. Sylvia was greatly traumatized by the electro-shock treatments she received after her suicide attempt and that is one of the emotional forces of "Lady Lazarus". Also because she was German the helplessness and powerless of the Holocaust victims are referenced her in her attempt to surface from the horror of human trauma. Her abilities as a writer, to synthesized so many elements: the intellectual experiences of learning, personal emotional experiences and general human experiences. It is a testament to her abilities as a poet that she spins such disparate elements into such artistic gold.
The title of this poem, "Lady Lazarus"(the "Lady" without a doubt referring to Plath herself, as this is an example of confessional poetry; the "Lazarus" being an allusion to the biblical figure) is an accurate indicator of the content of the poem....
This powerful poem , which was written by controversial and somewhat disturbed author Sylvia Plath has proved to be one of the most acclaimed and appreciated works of poetry of all time. This is very strange, being as the poem, as well as most of Plath's work, became famous after the poet's death. The poem, which displays a barrage of themes, can be taken many different ways. The speaker could be a creature, a person, or even some sort of spirit. In terms of a creature, it is definitely well-emphasized that the speaker could be a mythical phoenix. As a person, it is believed that the speaker could be a survivor of some horrible experience.
Those three poetic devices are particularly evident in lines 65-79 of"Lady Lazarus." In the New Testament of the Bible, Lazarus is a man who rises from the dead at the command of Jesus Christ (John 11:38).
Sylvia Plath doesn't only relate her poem to the Holocaust. She relates her poem to many different things. She changes throughout the poem so various types of audiences can relate the her and how she feels tortured. She relates her poem to the Bible, to the Holocaust, to medical view points, she also relates her poem to things that were most likely lying on the desk while she wrote the poem. The readers just need to analyze her poem deeper to understand that.
One theory that definitely has many indications in the text is the speculation that the speaker was a survivor of the Holocaust. The speaker could be someone who saw such horrible things that they felt like dying, like forgetting the camps, yet they held on. However, the text points to the fact that maybe those scars never healed. The first and probably the most obvious reference to this is "for the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge" (line 60). Although there is an obvious connection to a money charge, it may actually be a physical charge, a spasm of memory. The speaker could be seeing the scars, adamant or not, and could suddenly relive the horrible memories. "I rise with my red hair" (line 85) is another clue, yet it is much more subtle than the first. The hair could be that of a human. The "with" is key. This could be pointing towards the fact that before she rose, she did not have the hair that she is describing. Could the Nazi guards have shaved it off? Yet now, she has risen from the ash of the Holocaust, and out of bravery, her hair has grown back. The last piece of evidence is the continuous indications of "decade[s]" or "ten years" (lines 2, 26). Could this have something to do with the Holocaust, or post Holocaust events? Is it possible that she is talking about some kind of memorial that takes place every ten years? It could be possible. All these things point to the fact that the Holocaust was something Plath had on her mind as she wrote "Lady Lazarus".
Just an interesting observation. It is true that this poem is about death, and her love-hate relationship with it. In a class discussion I had, it was observed that the speaker here seemed to become stronger at the end of the poem. The fact that Lazarus is now crowned "Lady" says something, that she associates with female power. Lazarus was someone in the Bible raised by God, but at the end, it seemed like she has gained power, as now she has risen on her own "out of the ash", from the dead, without help from God or the doctor, like a pheonix with her "red hair". Critics likening Plath to a feminist writer would definitely cite her "eat[ing] men like air" to their advantage, and also the abovementioned point of her naming the poem "Lady Lazarus".
It is evident that Sylvia Plath had more than one theme on her mind when she wrote "Lady Lazarus". The certain things described in this essay are what seem to be the most interesting components of this poem. They are all backed up with evidence from Plath's writing. Nobody could describe the themes better than Plath herself, yet even if she wanted to, she wouldn't.
Having been denied a relationship with her father, abased by a dissatisfied mother, betrayed by her husband, and deprived of the ability to take her own life, Sylvia Plath was desperately seeking control.