Sylvia Plath was an American Poet Novelist and Shortstory Writer

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Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer who studied at Cambridge in the late 1950s. She composed many poems, using supposedly herself and her family as the centerpiece and focus of the stories and memories that she recounted in many of her poems. One of the important themes that she explores as a poet, is women in society. It is evident that she was affected by the many expectations that are imposed upon women, that are impossible to satisfy all at once.

One poem that strongly portrays the negative aspect of women’s lives due to the fact that they must obtain a perfect identity is Munich Mannequins. It is a poem about how only mannequins that have the “perfect” body and figure, line the shop windows of Germany, dominating over what real womens bodies actually look like. It explores how the “orange lollies on silver sticks” are due to society’s unrealistic expectations of women and their roles, resulting in a harmful pressure to be a certain weight and size.

The unrealistic expectations of women and their roles is explored throughout the poem, showing that there is a strong contradiction between two main that are asked of women. They are expected to have children and take on the traditional role of a housewife, to take care of their children and serve their husbands. Contradicting this, is another societal assumption that every women will have a certain body type that is associated with perfection. Evidently this is not possible, for every woman has a different body type and it will be forever changing especially after childbirth.

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This is shown by Plath’s statement “Perfection is terrible, it cannot have children”, it is an oxymoron as perfection and terrible are opposites. Through this, Plath was trying to show how women feel they cannot become pregnant because they’re tied down by this notion that their bodies must remain perfect.

She further strengthens this idea by stating “ the blood flow is the flood of love/ the absolute sacrifice” suggesting that fertility is a gift but also a sacrifice, which shows that women are faced with a dilemma as they cannot satisfy both ideals. Another way in which Plath portrays the mannequins as being unhealthy and toxic for society is in her depiction of them being “sulfur loveliness”, showing that just like the chemical sulfur, they too have the potential to be dangerous but it is hidden behind their beauty and their superficial loveliness. Through this poem, Plath shows the reader that she believes that the male objectification of women and the perfect ideal is unhealthy towards women and suppresses their individuality alongside also rendering the society too close minded in its views.

It renders it difficult for a women to feel comfortable having children whilst struggling to maintain perfect. This concern around the portrayal of women in society is reflected strongly in today’s concerns and obsessions with one’s body image. The poem Spinster, takes on a different approach, unlike Munich Mannequins it empowers women to be able to have control over their own lives and choose whether to be associated with men and or their views if any. The poem is about a young lady who is on a walk with her latest suitor. She is one who who does not agree with societal conventions and does not want to be dictated by any man. This anxiety to maintain control is juxtaposed with the the presence of disorder and disarray of the nature surrounding her whilst on a walk with her latest suitor. There is a strong contrast of order and disorder between them.

One way in which Plath portrays female identity is with the use of her extended metaphor of natures order and disorder representing what it’s like to be with a man and what its like to be in control over one’s own life. She wishes that winter will arrive soon, as she describes it being “scrupulously austere in its order” and “exact as a snowflake”, which evidently makes her feel more comfortable than the springtime months where plants blossom at different times and their is inconsistent growth creating disorder alongside the litter of leaves covering the grounds. Another text that shares the same themes of women in society is A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. The extended essay that she wrote explores how women have been left with little opportunity for education, and for a woman to unleash her full potential she must have privacy (a room of one’s own) and money.

Just like Spinster, A Room of One’s Own challenges the stereotypical ideas surrounding women’s abilities and attempts to redress the inequalities between the sexes. One way in which the theme of women in society arises in Woolf’s critics is how men had full entitlement to a woman’s money and savings once married because of the Married Women’s Property Act, which states that a woman’s earnings should be directly handed over and becomes the “property of her husband”. This is an act of oppression on women and they are thereofor depicted as victims of men because they are bullied into believing that they should not make money, and if they do it should be passed into the hands of a wiser figure.

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Sylvia Plath was an American Poet Novelist and Shortstory Writer. (2019, Nov 26). Retrieved from

Sylvia Plath was an American Poet Novelist and Shortstory Writer
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