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Analysis and comments on Spinster by Sylvia Plath

Comment 9 of 9, added on August 4th, 2014 at 4:37 PM.

GlY3Dw Really enjoyed this blog.Much thanks again. Really Great.

matzcrorkz from Israel
Comment 8 of 9, added on August 3rd, 2014 at 3:10 PM.

X1ksY1 I loved your blog article.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

crorkz from Namibia
Comment 7 of 9, added on July 19th, 2014 at 12:49 AM.

DldEGr Im obliged for the blog article.Much thanks again. Will read on...

link building from San Marino
Comment 6 of 9, added on April 12th, 2011 at 12:22 PM.

This poems is about bees looking for honey. I love when the bears eat the
bees and the honey. I love poems. Call me!!!

Jenifer Weber
Comment 5 of 9, added on December 18th, 2010 at 6:22 PM.
man or nature

Given to great thought of surroundings, this poem equals the human
companionship to nature about. Messy, gestured and yet separate that one
must make a choice. To be a companion with someone or alone with nature.
Equal yet with notice.

Bradford from United States
Comment 4 of 9, added on January 30th, 2010 at 11:18 PM.

The last stanza of the poem ends in "or love, either". By separating love
from "curse, fist, threat" Plath implies that love is a totally different
game from the others but equally as threatening.

djrom from United States
Comment 3 of 9, added on February 23rd, 2009 at 11:34 AM.

This poem was written in the very same year that Plath met Ted Hughes (also
a poet). Judging Hughes to be “the only one” Plath married him. Hughes,
however, is said to have been a less than ideal husband who had rude habits
and a slovenly lifestyle. Knowing that Plath is a keen observer I would
not doubt that she was blind to these habits and yet she married him. This
poem may be representative of the other path she could have taken when she
met him. Rather than taking a chance at love as she did in real life, this
poem envisions her running away from Hughes and the disorder he brought
with him and living a life of lonely order.

Sarah Somer from Canada
Comment 2 of 9, added on September 13th, 2007 at 8:54 PM.

wow chris, i couldn't have said it better myself! i think that perhaps the
poem is feministic in its undertones, though plath was by no means a
hardcore feminist.

Kiwi from United States
Comment 1 of 9, added on March 21st, 2007 at 5:53 PM.

The speaker describes the inner thoughts of an unmarried girl walking out
with a potential lover, who realises that she cannot share her life with a
man since it would result in her losing control over her own, very strictly
ordered, life as a single person.
The ‘particular’ girl – the carefully chosen adjective meaning both this
“specific” girl and one who is “very fastidious and set in her ways” – is
walking with a suitor in a “ceremoniously” formal manner. The time is
April: the season is spring, the time of rebirth after the austerity of the
winter. Yet the the “irregular babel” of the birdsong and the “litter” of
the leaves – perhaps not fresh on the trees, but the discarded rubbish of
winter, on the ground – disturb the girl; she rejects the the “disarray” of
the spring and inwardly longs for the “scrupulous austerity” and “order[ed]
… white and black” of winter. When she equates her lover’s exuberance with
the “slovenliness” of the season and rejects him “neatly”, it is clear
that, as a confirmed misanthrope, she has constructed an emotional barrier
around herself against the violence and unruliness of men.
The poem consists of five stanzas, each of six lines. The first line of
each stanza has a regular metre [trimeter or tetrameter], which is not in
itself immediately remarkable, although it is – unusually – followed by
four lines without regular metre. However, the return to a rigid
controlling metre in the final line, which has the same foot count as the
first line of the stanza but which generally lacks the relief of unstressed
syllables, gives a terrible sense of repression. The metrical form of the
poem reflects the defence of “a barricade of barb and check” which the
confirmed spinster has set against the “irregular, disarrayed and giddy”
sensations which bombard her “five queenly wits” – her five senses.
The rhyme scheme relies almost wholly on pararhyme – “slant rhyme” – that
reflects the weakness that the girl feels in her particular position. The
two perfect rhymes – order/border and set/threat – employ words of
containment, rigidity and violence, thereby emphasising that they serve as
a metaphor for the girl herself.
The enjambment of the first stanza flows at the ‘ceremonious’ walking pace
of the couple; the first caesura follows “herself”, which draws the focus
inwards to the girl’s private thoughts. A second caesura signals that
thoughts are “sudden” and “intolerable”: this girl is unhappy in the
untidiness of the countryside, her taciturnity threatened by the
“intolerable babel” of the birds, and the alliteratively-stressed “litter”
of the “leaves”.
The second stanza reveals further signs of inner panic. Her lover’s
gestures “unbalance the air”: a transferred epithet suggesting that he is
cavorting about in an unbalanced way, like a fool. Offended by the
“unevenness”, the “rank wilderness”, she “judges” the whole season to be
“slovenly”. Here, the word judge suggests a courtroom rather than a
pastoral setting, but in the fourth stanza the image of her lover’s foolery
is developed using vocabulary from the semantic field of a Court of a
different kind. Her five queenly wits (her senses) come under threat from
the vulgar motley of a jester, the “idiot” who “reels giddy” in the
madhouse of “bedlam spring”; any challenge to her regal isolation is now
The symbolism of the third stanza reveals the depth of the girl’s need for
order. She wishes things to be clearly defined, “white and black”, and
“scrupulously austere” like “ice and rock” – unmelting and impenetrable. No
room for wild abandonment here: her heart will be “disciplined” and kept
“exact as a snowflake”, cold and perfect, but also unique in its
geometrical perfection, and through its uniqueness, alone.
Just as the poet has constructed a metaphor for her isolation, the girl
herself has constructed her “barricade” against the threats of men; sadly,
the barrier is effective against the softer emotions, too. But whose regret
do we hear in the final line? The regret of the poet? Or the regret of the

Chris Thorns from United Kingdom

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Information about Spinster

Poet: Sylvia Plath
Poem: Spinster
Volume: The Collected Poems
Year: 1956
Added: Feb 20 2003
Viewed: 96 times
Poem of the Day: Feb 6 2014

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