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Analyzing Sylvia Plath's Writing Style

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Sarah Xu

on 12 November 2015

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Transcript of Analyzing Sylvia Plath's Writing Style

Analyzing Sylvia Plath's Style
Sarah Xu
period 3 / LA / LeMaster
11-9-15

What's unique about Sylvia Plath's writing style?

Compared to a lot of other authors, her writing style is very personal. According to Peter K. Steinberg, Plath relied heavily on her journal for inspiration for her poems. That's probably why every comment she makes is throughout her poetry is about her own thoughts and emotions or things that have happened in her life
Denouement Villanelle

The telegram says you have gone away
And left our bankrupt circus on its own;
There is nothing more for me to say.

The maestro gives the singing birds their pay
And they buy tickets for the tropic zone;
The telegram says you have gone away.

The clever woolly dogs have had their day
They shoot the dice for one remaining bone;
There is nothing more for me to say.

The lion and the tigers turn to clay
And Jumbo sadly trumpets into stone;
The telegram says you have gone away.

The morbid cobra's wits have run astray;
He rents his poisons out by telephone;
There is nothing more for me to say.

The colored tents all topple in the bay;
The magic saw dust writes: address unknown.
The telegram says you have gone away;
There is nothing more for me to say.
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key word(s)

figurative language

elements of structure
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metaphor
repetion
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KEY (cont'd)
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NOTES
Villanelles are highly structured poems with rigid rhyme and repetition schemes, and "Denouement Villanelle" is no exception.

In this poem, I think Plath is trying to say that circuses are meant to be fun, but there's no joy when there's no love (and there's no love because someone went away and that's all she can think about).

Her poems aren't autobiographical sometimes because some poems may not be about Plath, but they're definitely inspired by things that have related to her.





Thou shalt have an everlasting
Monday and stand in the moon.

The moon's man stands in his shell,
Bent under a bundle
Of sticks. The light falls chalk and cold
Upon our bedspread.
His teeth are chattering among the leprous
Peaks and craters of those extinct volcanoes.

He also against black frost
Would pick sticks, would not rest
Until his own lit room outshone
Sunday's ghost of sun;
Now works his hell of Mondays in the moon's ball,
Fireless, seven chill seas chained to his ankle.
The Everlasting Monday
imagery
imagery
personification
NOTES
- inconsistent pattern of something that's not true rhyme, but instead a variation on it

- this poem portrays Mondays as "sterile and melancholic" says Harold Bloom

- "Thou shalt have an everlasting/Monday and stand in the moon." This sounds like a punishment or a sentence of some sort

- Plath talks about how the "light falls chalk and cold/upon our bedspread/", which seems to suggest that the bleakness she's describing has spread to the human world too

- compares herself to the man trapped on the moon. The man on the moon is sleepless and cold - really really cold - and maybe she is too, both metaphorically and physically


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Cinderella

The prince leans to the girl in scarlet heels,
Her green eyes slant, hair flaring in a fan
Of silver as the rondo slows; now reels
Begin on tilted violins to span

The whole revolving tall glass palace hall
Where guests slide gliding into light like wine;
Rose candles flicker on the lilac wall
Reflecting in a million flagons' shine,

And glided couples all in whirling trance
Follow holiday revel begun long since,
Until near twelve the strange girl all at once
Guilt-stricken halts, pales, clings to the prince

As amid the hectic music and cocktail talk
She hears the caustic ticking of the clock.
imagery

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imagery
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imagery
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NOTES
- uses both visual and auditory imagery to set a slow and romantic but also haunting tone; creates a ballroom-like fairytale atmosphere
- introduces the reader to the setting by describing colors: "scarlet heels," "green eyes," and "silver"; uses auditory imagery to describe an image of pleasant music and "cocktail talk"
- introduces two different sounds to rhyme in each stanza, up until the last one where it's just one
- uses rich language to create motion as Cinderella whirls and glides all about the ballroom

Metaphors
I’m a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf’s big with its yeasty rising.
Money’s new-minted in this fat purse.
I’m a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I’ve eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there’s no getting off.
metaphors
metaphor
allusion
metaphor
NOTES
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- in this poem, Plath uses (short) metaphors and compares a pregnant woman (herself) to an elephant, melon, house and fat purse
- the baby is compared to a calf, loaf of bread, and a newly minted coin
- she makes an allusion to the story from the Bible where Eve eats the apple and because of that women have to endure childbirth
- she says that she's eaten a "bag of green apples", meaning more than one - so she's probably been through pregnancy more than once
- because she talks about GREEN apples - apples that are sour and unripe - she's probably referring to how uncomfortable pregancy is and the nausea that comes with it
There is this white wall, above which the sky creates itself---
Infinite, green, utterly untouchable.
Angels swim in it, and the stars, in indifference also.
They are my medium.
The sun dissolves on this wall, bleeding its lights.

A gray wall now, clawed and bloody.
Is there no way out of the mind?
Steps at my back spiral into a well.
There are no trees or birds in this world,
There is only sourness.

This red wall winces continually :
A red fist, opening and closing,
Two gray, papery bags---
This is what I am made of , this and a terror
Of being wheeled off under crosses and a rain of pietas.

On a black wall, unidentifiable birds
Swivel thier heads and cry.
There is no talk of immortality among these!
Cold blanks approach us :
They move in a hurry.
Apprehensions
NOTES
personification
imagery
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- personifies the walls and describes different "worlds" behind them (maybe they symbolize emotions)
- use of metaphor
- allpoetry.com says that this poem was inspired after Path began to suspect that her husband was having an affair, so that would explain the title
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