Poetry analysis.

Poetry Analysis: “Lady Lazarus” by Sylvia Plath


Sylvia Plath’s poem “Lady Lazarus” is about despair, torture, emotional pain, and the feeling of helplessness. Many critics believe that this poem, like many of her other poems are about the Holocaust. However, this is the beauty of poetry, it means differently to so many different people.

There are a few lines of the poem that may refer to World War II, and Nazi’s as in lines four and five: “A sort of walking miracle, my skin/Bright as a Nazi lampshade.”  It is the belief that the Nazi made lampshades out of human skin. If this is true or not, Plath may have just used this it has a metaphor, has she uses metaphors in all of her poetry.

The title “Lady Lazarus” according to, Plath it is of agony of being reborn. Plath writes of death and her attempts at suicide.  

The seventh verse, the line, “And like the cat I have nine times to die,” cats have nine lives she is saying she is like the cat with having nine times to die. She was the same after the first time, claiming it was an accident, as in verse twelve: “Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman/the first time it happened I was ten/it was an accident.” 

One of the theories of this poem is that Plath is a survivor of something tragic that occurred in her life. Another theory, she could very well be a survivor of the Holocaust or a grandmother or even her own mother was a survivor of the Holocaust. Either way, she writes as she sees life, her life, and simply expresses how she feels. Unfortunately, there are readers and critics who will not like what she writes, but fortunately, for her, there are many who do appreciate her poetry.

Attempting to die in different ways repeatedly is her attempt to try to forget the world around her and to escape, but at the same time, she keeps holding on, as she keeps escaping death each attempt she makes. Until that last attempt and she succeeds. As in verse nineteen, “ ‘A miracle!’/that knocks me out/there is a charge.” 

As Plath was writing this poem, I believe she had many different thoughts going through her mind. When she writes, she writes of controversial subjects and there will always be someone to go against her writing. Sometimes there is a time when controversial has to be approached and to be offensive; to make readers feel and to evoke the emotion deep within their souls.

There are many readers that believe this is a depressing and a poem of being defeated; however, I believe it is about the strength of attempting suicide, the courage to keep at it and the courage to continue to survive after each attempt. The defeat is the emotional defeat of Plath did not have the strength to stand up to her emotions and out survive them.

Plath is one of the many exceptional confessional poets that have been published, her poetry makes one think within oneself.


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