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The Bee Meeting

An analysis of a poem by Sylvia Plath
by

Martyna Judd

on 8 June 2013

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Transcript of The Bee Meeting

Analysis of the Poem and main aspects of the text THE BEE MEETING BEES: WHAT THEY SYMBOLISE THE QUEEN BE IS BEING REPLACED
BY YOUNGER VIRGIN BEES VULNERABILITY MEETING AN END The Old Queen Bee represents a loss of power:

The villagers are opening the chambers, they are hunting the queen.
Is she eating honey? She is very clever. She is old, old, old. (L.42-44)

She is old, and is no longer valued by the villagers or the hive. MOTIF AND PERSONIFICATION OF BEES Queen Bee Drone Bees A magician’s girl is attractive, and there to add glamour to a show. This, in Plath’s poem is the portrayal of women by the society. Dream of a duel they will win inevitably.
(L. 45-46).

sealing off her brood cells, her honey, and quietly humming
(L. 34-35)

I am the magician’s girl who does not flinch.
(L. 53) The Queen Bee is being replaced by new virgin bees who are younger. Plath is conveying that a woman can only be ‘powerful’ if she is young and beautiful: Portrayal of Women VULNERABILITY AND
ALIENATION Who are these people at the bridge to meet me? (line 1),
‘Why did nobody tell be?’ (line 5),
‘Does nobody love me?’ (line 6).

'nude as a chicken neck' (line 6)
as opposed to:
'nodding a square black head, they are knights in visors
Breastplates of cheescloth knotted under the armpits' (lines 13-14) The time during which the poem was written was
perhaps one of the most vulnerable in Plath’s life.

She describes her alienation and feeling defenselessness.

Asking of questions establishes insecurity and anxiety OCCUPATIONS:
‘the butcher, the grocer, the postman.’ (L.30)

The villagers in the poem are making the speaker one of them, dressing her up in a bee keeper’s uniform:
They are giving me a fashionable white straw Italian hat/
a black veil that molds my face, they are making me one of them. (L.21-22).

Behind her black veil she is indistinguishable from the others, stripped of her identity.

BECOMING A WEED:
‘Now I am milkweed silk, the bees will not notice./ They will not smell my fear, my fear, my fear.’ (L. 9-10) Summer is the final stage of harvest, indicating that the story is heading towards a decline: In my sleeveless summery dress (L.3)

OPERATION:
‘Is this an operation that is taking place?’ (L.26)

‘Creamy bean flowers with black eyes and leaves like bored hearts. Is it blood clots the tendrils are dragging up that string?’ (L. 18-19)

‘the barren body of hawthorn, etherising its children.’ (L. 25)

‘I could not run without having to run forever’ (L.33) SHE LOSES CONTACT WITH THE ‘OUTSIDE WORLD’- THE OPERATION WILL NOT BE A SUCCESSFUL ONE. HEADING TOWARDS DECLINE 'Whose is that long white box in the grove, what have they accomplished,
why am I cold. '
(L. 55-56)
she has lost her identity and is alien even to herself. Conclusion The The Bee Meeting
Sylvia Plath
Who are these people at the bridge to meet me? They are the villagers---- 
The rector, the midwife, the sexton, the agent for bees. 
In my sleeveless summery dress I have no protection, 
And they are all gloved and covered, why did nobody tell me? 
They are smiling and taking out veils tacked to ancient hats.  5

I am nude as a chicken neck, does nobody love me? 
Yes, here is the secretary of bees with her white shop smock, 
Buttoning the cuffs at my wrists and the slit from my neck to my knees. 
Now I am milkweed silk, the bees will not notice. 
They will not smell my fear, my fear, my fear.  10

Which is the rector now, is it that man in black? 
Which is the midwife, is that her blue coat? 
Everybody is nodding a square black head, they are knights in visors, 
Breastplates of cheesecloth knotted under the armpits. 
Their smiles and their voices are changing. I am led through a beanfield. 15

Smoke rolls and scarves in the grove. 
The mind of the hive thinks this is the end of everything. 
Here they come, the outriders, on their hysterical elastics. 
If I stand very still, they will think I am cow-parsley, 
A gullible head untouched by their animosity,  40

Not even nodding, a personage in a hedgerow. 
The villagers open the chambers, they are hunting the queen. 
Is she hiding, is she eating honey? She is very clever. 
She is old, old, old, she must live another year, and she knows it. 
While in their fingerjoint cells the new virgins 45

Dream of a duel they will win inevitably, 
A curtain of wax dividing them from the bride flight, 
The upflight of the murderess into a heaven that loves her. 
The villagers are moving the virgins, there will be no killing. 
The old queen does not show herself, is she so ungrateful? 50

I am exhausted, I am exhausted ---- 
Pillar of white in a blackout of knives. 
I am the magician's girl who does not flinch. 
The villagers are untying their disguises, they are shaking hands. 
Whose is that long white box in the grove, what have they accomplished, 55
why am I cold. Strips of tinfoil winking like people, 
Feather dusters fanning their hands in a sea of bean flowers, 
Creamy bean flowers with black eyes and leaves like bored hearts. 
Is it blood clots the tendrils are dragging up that string? 
No, no, it is scarlet flowers that will one day be edible.  20

Now they are giving me a fashionable white straw Italian hat 
And a black veil that molds to my face, they are making me one of them. 
They are leading me to the shorn grove, the circle of hives. 
Is it the hawthorn that smells so sick? 
The barren body of hawthon, etherizing its children.  25

Is it some operation that is taking place? 
It is the surgeon my neighbors are waiting for, 
This apparition in a green helmet, 
Shining gloves and white suit. 
Is it the butcher, the grocer, the postman, someone I know?  30


I cannot run, I am rooted, and the gorse hurts me 
With its yellow purses, its spiky armory. 
I could not run without having to run forever. 
The white hive is snug as a virgin, 
Sealing off her brood cells, her honey, and quietly humming.  35
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