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Analysis and comments on Metaphors by Sylvia Plath

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Comment 56 of 496, added on June 4th, 2010 at 4:42 AM.


Suzanne from Taiwan
Comment 55 of 496, added on June 4th, 2010 at 4:42 AM.


Suzanne from Taiwan
Comment 54 of 496, added on June 4th, 2010 at 4:42 AM.


Suzanne from Taiwan
Comment 53 of 496, added on June 4th, 2010 at 4:42 AM.


Suzanne from Taiwan
Comment 52 of 496, added on June 4th, 2010 at 4:42 AM.


Suzanne from Taiwan
Comment 51 of 496, added on June 2nd, 2010 at 11:17 AM.

This poem is definitely about how unhappy Plath was in the latter stages of

her pregnancy. Using terms like 'elephant' (think of Hemingway in Hills
Like White Elephants), 'ponderous house' and 'fat purse', Plath is
describing just how she feels. These metaphors, coupled with the 'bag of
green apples', which not only bloat you, but turn your stomach sour paint a

picture of a woman who feels dreadful. There is so much more to be
discovered in these nine simple lines, but suffice it to say that Plath
felt she had no control over her life at this point ('there's no getting
off') - and any woman who has been pregnant can understand that there comes

a point when you feel that you are merely a vessel for this 'red fruit'.
Plath was a desperately unhappy woman, and this is only too obvious in this


suman samprit from Zimbabwe
Comment 50 of 496, added on May 27th, 2010 at 9:55 AM.

slyvia plath has beautifully written the poem to describe
the pain and suffering of women during pregnancy. However, I feel that she
has exaggerated the feelings which may create a kind of fear among newly
married brides and other women expecting child.

aditya from Nepal
Comment 49 of 496, added on April 19th, 2010 at 12:00 AM.
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Comment 48 of 496, added on March 23rd, 2010 at 4:15 PM.

I disagree on the last line. A mother's job is not over when the pregnancy
is. She still has to raise the child. "Boarded the train, there's no
getting off" means she knows that this horrible state she's in is only the
beginning. She still has to raise the child that has made her feel so
awful. She is not looking forward to raising the child.

Rosie from United States
Comment 47 of 496, added on March 12th, 2010 at 1:54 AM.

In her brief nine-line poem, “Metaphors,” Sylvia Plath uses rich imagery to
dissect her role as a pregnant woman. Written in 1959, Plath was carrying
Frieda, her first child with British poet Ted Hughes when she wrote this
poem. As the name of the poem suggests, Plath uses a series of metaphors to
describe the desperate state she feels she is in during her pregnancy. The
way in which Plath frames the poem is very unique. She purposefully writes
the poem in nine lines, with nine syllables in each line, bringing to mind
the nine months during which she will carry the child in her womb. As is
characteristic of her poetry, Plath writes in the first person to make a
personal, human appeal by using the “I” voice.
Plath uses handily crafted metaphors to convey her feelings about
pregnancy. She describes herself as “an elephant” in the respect that she
is bloated and uncomfortably large, a “ponderous house” in the sense that
she is the clumsy structure which bears the child, and a “melon” in that
she is the tough external facade of something ripening inside of her.
Extending the metaphor into next line, “O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers,”
Plath uses the rhetorical device of synecdoche, that is, the use of a part
as referring to the whole, to describe her child. The use of this device is
remarkable in this case because she chooses to use the parts of each whole
which are the most valuable; the ripened fruit of the melon, the ivory of
the elephant’s tusks, and the fine timbers with which the house was
constructed. Plath here makes it clear that she believes the only
salvageable good of her pregnancy is the offspring. Yet despite this
“salvageable” aspect of the pregnancy, Plath feels like having to reduce
herself to a disgusting, bloated vessel whose only worth is that by virtue
of what it contains is degrading to her humanity. Plath in the seventh line
describes herself as “a means,” as if she were simply a nine-month
temporary incubator for the child. Once she embraces this imagery, reducing
her role to a “means,” Plath fully adopts an attitude of self-loathing, an
attitude whose seeds were planted when she used images like “a ponderous
house” and a “melon strolling on two tendrils” to describe her pregnant
self. Plath uses several more metaphors which speak of her ever-growing
belly and increasingly uncomfortable lifestyle. She, in line six, describes
herself as a “fat purse” holding valuable “money’s new-minted.” This image
further highlights Plath’s attitude toward her pregnant self, that she is
simply a receptacle whose worth exists only because of the “money
new-minted” which it holds. She feels like she is disgustingly grotesque,
and has relinquished her beauty, comfort, and humanity so that her child
may enter into the world. Plath’s feelings of self-loathing are furthered
by her feeling that she is trapped in her degraded state and that she can
in no way personally effect a change that can restore her humanity, that
is, that she “Boarded the train [and] there’s no getting off.” This final
line of the poem deserves some extra thought, though, because while it, in
one sense like the rest of the poem, it relates a general tone of
self-loathing, it, at the same time, reminds the reader of Plath’s
underlying humanity. The final line also acts, to some degree, as Plath’s
acceptance of her temporary role as a “means” as something which all
mothers much endure for their children, and a reminder that after the nine
months burden is lifted, she will return to her full humanity. Even though
the last line states that “there’s no getting off,” Plath reminds us
painstakingly by the nine line stanza and the nine syllables in each line
that she will “get off the train” once the nine months are through.

James Yoder from Switzerland

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Information about Metaphors

Poet: Sylvia Plath
Poem: Metaphors
Volume: The Collected Poems
Year: 1959
Added: Feb 21 2003
Viewed: 5730 times
Poem of the Day: Aug 6 2004

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