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Comment 3 of 53, added on April 29th, 2009 at 3:43 PM.
The poem Medusa is not based entirely on the conceit of the Greek deity
Medusa. Plath likens her mother to the 'Medusa' Jellyfish, as the poem was
written at a time when Plath was interested in biology, specifically marine
biology. This interpretation should make the references to 'barnacled',
'tentacle', and 'ocean', clearer.
A. McCormack from United Kingdom
Comment 2 of 53, added on November 3rd, 2005 at 3:25 AM.
The poem, Medusa, highlights the oppression and incarceration Plath feels
in the relationship with her mother. She describes her mother as a
controlling figure in her life, unable to let her go and feels trapped by
her religion. Ambiguity is also evident as Plath seems to be very dependent
on yet cynical of her mother.
A poetic technique of allusion is used where Plath compares her mother to
the goddess of Greek mythology, ‘Medusa’. Medusa was a cruel monster who
turned people into stone and by using this technique the reader senses the
loathing Plath feels before the reading the poem.
Plath’s hatred for her mother is clear with phrases like ‘squeezing the
breath from the blood bells of the fuscia’ and ‘off, off, eely tentacle’.
The active verb “squeezing” potently demonstrates the power Plath feels her
mother has as is she is able to crush her. Her choice of colour imagery in
the diction of “blood” and “fuschia” implies that it is the life blood of
Plath that her mother can coerce.
However the theme of ambiguity is shown when Plath describes her dependence
longing for a relationship with her mother, "Did I escape, I wonder? My
mind winds to you, old barnacled umbilicus, Atlantic Cable…in a state of
miraculous repair” The use of the adjective “barnacle” indicates the
parasitical nature of the relationship. Plath suggests, through the use
natural imagery, that no matter the distance between them, in this case the
Atlantic Ocean, they will always have an unbreakable bond, ‘you steamed to
us over the sea’.
Plath’s childhood was dominated by a strict Methodist element. Plath feels
guilty about her physical relationship with Ted Hughes and feels her mother
judges her harshly and critically. There are many religious references
where Plath portrays her mother’s dominance ‘your unnerving head – God
ball’. Plath tries to separate herself from her mother’s religion due to
her guilt. A tone of indignation and sarcasm can be sensed when she uses
the connotation ‘I shall take on bite of your body…ghastly Vatican’. This
phrase emphasises her hatred for her mother, as well as being a religious
Stephanie from Australia
Comment 1 of 53, added on October 18th, 2004 at 3:39 AM.
American Gorgon: Reading Sylvia Plath's Medusa...
Analysis of the poem can be found at www.jamesreich.com
from United Kingdom
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