English Literature
Ariel Sylvia Plath

Ariel Sylvia Plath

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Exploring Liberation and Connection with Nature in Sylvia Plath's "Ariel" Poem

Sylvia Plath's poem "Ariel" is a powerful and transformative piece that delves into themes of liberation and connection with the natural world. While the title may allude to Shakespeare's character Ariel from The Tempest, the poem stands on its own as a symbolic and metaphorical work of art.

The speaker in the poem embarks on a horse ride through the mountains, undergoing a transformation as they become more in tune with the world around them. The poem begins with a description of the physical world and the movements of the horse, but as the speaker consumes dark berries, the language shifts to a more spiritual and metaphorical tone.

The berries, with their "hooks", bring the speaker closer to nature and the juice is described as "sweet black blood", symbolizing a deeper connection with the natural world. This transformation is further reflected in the pace of the poem, quickening with the speaker's ride.

The sixth stanza portrays the speaker being "hauled" through the air, creating a sense of flight and movement. As the poem progresses, the speaker sheds their physical form and becomes one with nature, "foaming to wheat" and leaving behind the constraints of childhood and childbirth.

The final stanza of the poem highlights the speaker's liberation as they become "the dew that flies" towards the sun, ultimately driving towards it and possibly, death. The use of "red eye" and "Cauldron of morning" paints a vivid image of the speaker's final journey into nature.

The Structure and Techniques Used in "Ariel" Poem

The poem "Ariel" is written in free verse, allowing Plath to freely manipulate the structure and form to amplify the themes and ideas present. The poem contains internal and slant rhyme, with words that sound similar but do not have an exact rhyme. For example, in line three, "pour" and "tor" create an internal rhyme, while "heels" and "else" in the 5th and 6th stanzas provide a slant rhyme.

Other Standout Poems in Plath's Ariel Collection

Sylvia Plath's collection Ariel also includes notable poems such as "Daddy" and "Lady Lazarus".

In "Daddy", written after Plath's separation from her husband, the speaker addresses her father who died when she was ten. The poem explores themes of power and oppression, with the speaker feeling trapped under her father's memory. The use of fascist imagery and references to patriarchal society further conveys the speaker's struggle.

"Lady Lazarus" is a reference to the biblical character who is resurrected from the dead by Jesus. The poem's speaker, also named Lady Lazarus, longs for death and rebirth. Written in free verse with a unique rhyme scheme, it delves into themes of death and rebirth, as well as the pressure to conform in a male-dominated society.

Sylvia Plath's "Ariel" Collection: Exploring Death, Liberation, Gender, and Rebirth

In 1961, Sylvia Plath wrote "Tulips", drawing inspiration from her time spent in the hospital. This free verse poem was first published in the New Yorker in 1962. The speaker, who is hospitalized, is disturbed by the vibrant and overly-excited tulips and their blood-red color. However, in the hospital, they find peace and calm. The speaker expresses conflicting feelings about their recovery, as the tulips serve as a reminder of their pain despite being a get-well gift.

"Tulips" explores the dichotomy between sickness and health. The speaker embraces the tranquility of recovery in the hospital, while the outside world's emphasis on health causes them distress. The poem begins with the speaker preferring to stay in the hospital but ends with a softer attitude towards their recovery.

"The Applicant": Critiquing Consumerism and Gender Roles in Marriage

In addition to "Ariel", Plath's 1965 collection also includes "The Applicant", a free verse monologue. In this poem, a salesperson pitches to a customer, who is looking to buy a wife. The poem highlights society's consumerist nature and traditional gender roles within marriage. The potential "wife" is portrayed as a blank canvas, molded to fit the male applicant's needs.

A Posthumously Published Collection: Sylvia Plath's "Ariel" (1965)

"Ariel" is a collection of poetry written by Sylvia Plath, published posthumously after her tragic death in 1963.

Exploring the Themes of Death, Gender, Liberation, and Rebirth in Sylvia Plath's 'Ariel'

Sylvia Plath's collection of poetry, 'Ariel', delves into the recurring themes of death, gender, liberation, and rebirth. It is widely believed that Plath wrote the titular poem, 'Ariel', in 1962, just five months before tragically taking her own life. Through the use of vivid imagery and powerful symbolism, Plath captures the reader's attention and explores themes that are deeply personal to her.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sylvia Plath's 'Ariel'

  • When was the poem 'Ariel' written?

The poem 'Ariel' was written by Plath in 1962, shortly before her death in February 1963.

  • What is the meaning of 'Ariel'?

'Ariel' depicts the speaker's experience of liberation while riding a horse in the early morning. The horse symbolizes the feeling of freedom and release.

  • Why did Sylvia Plath write 'Ariel'?

Plath wrote the collection 'Ariel' as a way to reflect on her own personal struggles. The poems within the collection revolve around themes that were deeply significant to Plath, including death, liberation, gender, and rebirth.

  • What are the recurring themes in 'Ariel'?

The most prominent themes present in 'Ariel' are death, liberation, gender, and rebirth. These themes are intertwined throughout the collection, creating a powerful and thought-provoking reading experience.

  • What type of poem is 'Ariel'?

'Ariel' is a free verse poem, a style that was often utilized by Plath to convey her emotions and thoughts in a raw and unfiltered manner.

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