Sylvia Plath - Provocative Imagery

“Plath’s provocative imagery serves to highlight the intense emotions expressed in her poetry.”  To what extent do you agree or disagree with this assessment of her poetry? Support your answer with suitable reference to the poetry of Sylvia Plath on your course. (2013)

The idea that Sylvia Plath used imagery to highlight the intense emotions in her poetry, I believe, is true. The extenet I feel this is true does difffer from poem to poem though, and I believe this is intentional. Although much of Plath’s poetry is classed as dark, and even harrowing in places, there are examples of softer moments conveying other emotions as well. I would like to compare two poems and the use of their imagery, one with its ability to highlight neutrality and the other to underline inner turmoil and depression.

‘Finisterre’ is a poem which deals with the futility of war, history and overall depression. The image Plath is conveying overall is that of the landscape, it begins with an ominous tone, ‘This was the land’s end’. This first line conveys the idea of no going back. She then also weaves in the metophorical ‘fingers…cramped on nothing’. These jarring words create an uncomfortable tone. As the poem moves on other ominous words are used, ‘drowned’, ‘death’, ‘bruise’ and ‘shipwrecked’. This imagery is severe, both of the landscape and the person or persons she is describing. The idea of this poem is that the war was foght here and many who went never came back, they were always on a futile journey and now it seemingly hangs in the air. Without this stark imagery I don’t believe this poem would be so powerful.

‘Black Rook in Rainy Weather’ is a poem heavy in imagery also, but this is not such a harsh approach. The theme of this poem focuses around Plath’s lack of poetic inspiration and this time, most of it’s imagery is focused on nature. The title even suggest this and the image is heavy itself. The ‘black rook’ is a bird which looks ominous and can be seen, in superstition, as a bad ...

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