Sylvia Plath: Poems

Slyvia Plath's Reinvented Lazarus College

Sylvia Plath’s Reinvented Lazarus

“The speaker is a woman who has the great and terrible gift of being reborn. The only trouble is, she has to die first. She is the Phoenix, the libertarian spirit, what you will. She is also just a good, plain, very resourceful woman.” -Sylvia Plath, 1963 (qtd. in Curley 213)

One of Slyvia Plath’s final works of poetry, “Lady Lazarus,” reinvents the biblical story of Lazarus, where a loving deity uses his power for good. Instead, Plath uses this opportunity to exhibit her distaste for patriarchal oppression. An expression of her own suicide attempts, the poem takes on a menacing tone as the speaker struggles to find recognition among her male peers. As a whole, Plath uses decisive literary techniques to re-gender the male Lazarus and likewise convey her personal feminine energy.

In “Lady Lazarus,” Sylvia Plath deliberately uses literary techniques like intentionally numbered stanzas, consistent repetition, and psychoanalytic comparisons to establish parallels between herself and the speaker, likewise further intensifying her feminist message. Written in the few months preceding her final (and successful) suicide attempt, Plath’s poem outlines a woman’s multiple suicide attempts (“I have...

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