Symbolism in Sylvia Plath’s poetry
After Richard Wilbur, if a name comes into our mind of the complex poet, it is not anybody else but Sylvia. She is too complex a poet of the history of English literature as well as American literature. She is a house of symbolism, and Plath’s poetry is a complex of symbolism Being a modern, Sylvia Plath can’t help expressing herself in complexion, sometimes overly suggestive construction. Modernity in modern times, has almost come to mean complexity particularly when used in the literal context. Many readers and critics find Sylvia’s poems to observe to render themselves easy to understand, and straightforward interpretation. The obscurity in Sylvia’s poetry, of course, has a lot to do with the complex nature of her experiences, and thus springs from her themes. Obscurity may partly be due to Sylvia’s inclination to resort to the use of symbolism. The modern use of symbolism only when they feel that ordinary words will not help them express their experience of people and things around them, in a very short span of time, Sylvia experienced too much and too intensely. She seems to have grown quietly earlier in the course of her life. This may also have something to do with her brilliance elective imagination and tremendous perception
As far as Symbolism in Sylvia Plath’s poetry is concerned, it is very obvious in her poems. All good poet uses symbolism when they feel that ordinary words, at their disposal, lack the potency and the efficiency that they would wish them to have. Complexity springs from Complex meanings and emotions which cannot be expressed adequately in ordinary words. Sylvia does not use symbols to deliberately make her poems richer, more interesting and more meaningful and suggestive. She uses personal symbols, not the hackneyed stereotyped ones.
The most symbolic of all the poems, many believe, is “Ariel”. Even the title embodies three or four suggested meanings, all intervening curiously to enrich the overall meaning of the poem. The experience of riding a horse becomes a metaphor for the process of writing a poem. The suggestive nature of the title has made it possible for the critics to come out with different interpretations one of them being that the poem is emblematic of Palth’s entertainment of poetic mastery. Through the ecstasy of physical emotion, it is possible to attain perfection, the symbolic reading of the poem implies an affirmation of pure androgynous creative energy. The apparently seamless moment of poetic coming in aerial is interpreted as a darker narrative of violence maybe it has to be experienced to achieve ripeness.
The sexual implication of the imagery reinforces this mood of reading. Sylvia though a female, identifies herself with the horse, a symbol of masculine sexual potency which, as the arrow becomes a phallic image that drives into the eyes of the circle associated with female sexuality.
Sylvia in her short life finally sought to give birth to a creative deep hidden self within her. This journey from the outer reality to the inner is expressed through the use of symbols we begin to look at the whole Bee sequence as a metaphor poetic creation. Bees could be thought of as words, which ones released, written on paper uttered by mouth, are out of the control of the persona. The persona as in the arrival of the Bee Box, thinks herself all-powerful but realizes her inability to exercise any control over the bees or words. The process of bee-keeping could be metaphorically regarded as the grooming of poetic faculties learning the art of living. Being and being is not easy second, being means beekeeping. State Both necessitate enduring, pain and torture to accomplish the bliss of achievement or to accomplish ultimate perfection in the art of living which may, at times calumniate in self-destruction. The possibility of different interpretations of almost all the Bee poems adds to their richness and appeal. Sylvia does manage to convey the precarious nature of female existence, the pressure of the urge to create, in the face of wifely, motherly obligations. The Bee poem, thus, represents the most complex and sustained instance of the oracular metaphor, through which, as we have seen, Plath explores the technical resource and the complexity of her craft as a poetic initiate.
The creative self demands expression whereas the physical self demands taking care of the day to today common chores. All these have been beautifully expressed in the bee meeting strings and Swarm. Even the fear of the world and the contradiction inherent in power, along with the exercise of passivity as a means of security, have been skillfully expressed through symbols. It is the symbolic use of words that unable Sylvia to move between the two dimensions of the actual and the metaphorical. Tulips becomes an unusual poem because it does move in word to word a silent center and out again. The fear expressed in other poems is absent there and the Persona claims” I am learning peacefulness, I only wanted to live with my hands turned up and utterly empty.”
Even more unusual than this acceptance of loss in the process of reversal. Where The Mind gradually holds again after the grim recognition that the Tulipus redness talks to my wounds, it corresponds. It means that the phenomena without, help her focus and fathom the demands and the complexities of the inner self. We gather that Tulipus is not a cheerful poem but it does move from cold to warm, from numbness to love, from empty whiteness to vivid redness in a process manipulated by the associative imagination.
Symbols help us perceive and keep track of the subtle oscillations between the different dimensions of beings. Again it is symbols that help the writer maintain the suggestiveness of her utterances. Thus, Sylvia manages to enhance the appeal of her poetry through this technique of symbolism.