Sylvia Plath's father plays a role in several of her poems - most notably, in "Full Fathom Five," "The Colossus," and "Daddy." He died when she was eight years old, and she spent much energy trying to come to terms with his influence on her life and her work. She depicts him as a massive statue and potent force in the early poems; she is clearly in awe of him. In "Daddy," he is a more malevolent creature that must be destroyed.
Narrator of "Tulips"
The narrator is in a hospital room after surgery. She is blissful and quiet, happy to have shed her attachments and memories. It is only when the vibrant and noisy tulips arrive that she is pushed out of her stagnant repose back into life.
The young fairy tale heroine in "Cinderella," who dances with the prince until she hears the sound of the clock that signals her impending departure.
Narrator of "A Life"
The female narrator is listless and devoid of energy as she recovers in a hospital room. She fears the future, which she compares to a squawking seagull.
The speaker of the poem "Lady Lazarus." She has attempted suicide several times, and considers "dying" to be an "art" that she does very well. She excoriates the crowd for watching her public spectacle, and for delighting in her pain and humiliation.
The horse that Plath rides in "Ariel." The character can also be understood as an allusion to Shakespeare's The Tempest.
Most likely the child of "Child" is Nicholas Plath, Sylvia and Ted Hughes's second child. In the poem, he is young and innocent. Plath wants to protect him from the realities of existence, and does not want him to feel her anxiety and fear.
The Mirror hangs on a wall and non judgmentally reveals to those who look within it the truth about themselves. Its most frequent guest is a woman who laments the onslaught of old age.
Narrator of "Ariel"
The narrator rides her horse at breakneck speed in the early morning on the English fields; through this, she and the horse become one being as she achieves transcendence.
Narrator of "Metaphors"
A pregnant woman who expresses ambivalence about her condition, the narrator uses colorful comparisons and bleak images to suggest that she feels like she has lost her own identity.
Narrator of "The Colossus"
A woman who scales a giant statue to attempt its repair despite great ambivalence over the statue and its legacy.
A giant statue that the poem's speaker scales, and likely a representation of Otto Plath.
Narrator of "Daddy"
A woman with serious ambivalence towards the titular father figure (likely a representation of Otto Plath). Her journey is the poem involves mustering the strength to kill him in her memory.
Narrator of "Contusion"
A clearly disturbed, unidentified speaker who observes and draws implicit connections between images of isolation and death.
Narrator of "Edge"
A woman who has recently or is soon to commit suicide, and who considers herself "perfected" because of it.
The moon in "Edge" is uninterested in the tragedy of human affairs, and looks down upon the dead speaker without any concern.
Narrator of "Full Fathom Five"
A woman who watches an old sea god rise from the waves with both excitement and resentment. She has a previous relationship with him, but was exiled from his kingdom.
Narrator of "Cut"
A woman who has cut her thumb while slicing onions and has strong but conflicted feelings about her pain and blood.
Narrator of "Sheep in Fog"
Ostensibly a woman riding a horse, the speaker is defined more by her apparent depression than by her physical experience of horse-riding.
Sylvia Plath: Poems Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Sylvia Plath: Poems is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The mirror first describes itself as “silver and exact.” It forms no judgments, instead merely swallowing what it sees and reflecting that image back without any alteration. The mirror is not cruel, “only truthful.” It considers itself a...