Sylvia Plath - Ariel poems

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  • Sylvia Plath "Ariel Poems" 1965
    • The Rival
      • Written a year before she died, possibly about different people including her husband or the woman he had an affair with (Assia Wevill)
        • references to death in the poem - "mausoleum", "dying to say something", "annihilating"
          • Plath's feelings towards her husbands affair could be reflected by the destructive language
            • self-destructive language also present in other Plath poems e.g. "Dying / is an art, like everything else / I do it exceptionally"
      • Plath's feelings towards her husbands affair could be reflected by the destructive language
        • self-destructive language also present in other Plath poems e.g. "Dying / is an art, like everything else / I do it exceptionally"
      • poisonous imagery shows destruction of the relationship - "cigarettes", "carbon monoxide"
      • Could also be addressed to her husband Ted Hughes who had an affair with another woman
        • this could be the "rival" Plath is referring to
      • use of a conceit - Plath compares the Rival to the moon
        • the Moon is seen as beautiful - not usually compared to rivals (jealousy, destruction)
      • moon is personified "the moon smiled"
      • themes: jealousy in love, self destruction, betrayal (husband's affair"
    • Stings
      • highlights the relationship between Plath and her husband "He and I"
      • enjambment used to extend thoughts of the speaker
      • shows resentment towards married life
      • starts off with delicate language "the man in white", "white in pink flowers"
      • "bare handed" repeated through the poem, possibly shows trust she has in her husband before infidelity
      • repetition of number 8 throughout could be symbolic of eight years of marriage
      • shift in the poem - from pure imagery and happy memories to realistic and dismal language
      • ‘though for years I have eaten dust and dried plates with my dense hair’
        • allusion to the Bible?
      • ‘strangeness’ and ‘dangerous skin’ could refer to her individuality

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