Those Sticky Pearls Just Wont Come Off!

| | Comments (6)

            I noticed that in both "Daddy" and "Lady Lazarus", Plath refers to age 10. In "Daddy" she writes, "I was ten when they buried you" (57) and in "Lady Lazarus" she discusses dying at age 10, "The first time it happened I was ten/ It was an accident" (35-36). I decided to do some digging to find out what may have happened when Plath was 10 that was so remarkable or traumatic she decided to refer to that number twice. I realize she may have simply used this number in order to carry out her theory that a part of her died after each decade of her life in "Lady Lazarus"; however, events in her life may also have contributed.

 (The website I found the information from is at the bottom of the page)

            Sylvia lived in Winthrop, Massachusetts from the age of 4 to the age of 10. She loved living there because she was intrigued by the Atlantic Ocean. However, at the age of 10 her family moved away from Winthrop. Perhaps Plath felt as though a part of her was left behind in Winthrop; meaning that a piece of her that had to move on was dead. Notice how Plath writes "when they buried you" (57) in the above quote from "Daddy".  Perhaps "they" refers to her family and "you" refers to the ocean and/or the piece of her left behind. Also, she claims her first death was accidental. Maybe she thought this because she did not inflict this death upon herself, outside forces did.  

            I have to say I enjoyed "Lady Lazarus" most out of the three poems. I know that the description says this poem is not confessional; however, it is very personal. This woman was so troubled to the point that she attempted suicide at age 20 then succeeded in the act at 30. After the stanza in "Lady Lazarus" that discusses her failed suicide attempt, she goes on to say "As a seashell/ they had to call and call/ and pick the worms off me like sticky pearls" (40-42). I interpreted this as the people who saved her from death this time around tried to peel apart the fragments of her being that were troubled in order to fix her so to speak. Don't quote me on this but I heard Plath suffered bipolar disorder; however, if not that, she definitely had some sort of mental disorder because she committed suicide. Perhaps people--doctors, family members, friends, etc--attempted to understand her disease in order to help her and this was no easy task as they did fail. Perhaps Plath could not take this life of depression and people attempting to understand her that ended her life at 3 rather than 9 lives.


Melissa Schwenk said:

Interesting use of Plath's personal life with the poems. I liked your idea of the three times she really feels death, once with her father died (even though she was eight years old when her father died in real life), once when she attempts suicide, and once when she finally succeeds in killing herself. Is it possible that she knew for a fact that she would not fail the third time or could it be like the saying "third time’s a charm?" Either way, I definitely think it has something to do with her personal life that played a big role in the poem.

Aja Hannah said:

What a coincidence! I didn't even notice that. And wow, we just read a poem about "Turning Ten" and life becoming real and kind of sucking. Plath was very average then, having these changes/realizations at 10.

Jessica Orlowski said:

Brooke, this was an awesome, AWESOME entry. Thanks for looking up background information about Plath. I like your title. I also believe that this poem is VERY autobiographical. Because Plath (obviously) had some sort of mental problems, "Herr Doktor/ Herr Enemy" could have been the actual doctors that tried to cure her.

Aja: I didn't notice the "ten" connection before. I wonder if this is the theme of the class- growing up and having it be awful. :)

Brooke Kuehn said:

Thanks Jess! Wow i completely missed the reference to "doktors".
Melissa, maybe Plath did know she would succeed the 3rd time because she did say "Dying/ Is an art, like everything else/ I do it exceptionally well"(43-45).
Aja, i know! i can't believe how many pieces seem to relate to "On Turning Ten". I guess it is something we all have to go through at some point in our lives.

Carissa Altier said:

Brooke, the background information was really helpful. Thanks for looking it up. I'm curious and may do some of my own research too. I think there could be another theory for why she died at 10. Perhaps a part of Sylvia Plath died when they buried her father. Melissa, I know you said that her father died at 8, but perhaps she used 10 because it just flowed better with the poems and stuck with the theme? Maybe the grieving process took two years and she only really accepted her father's death at ten. I think the first death was innocent and accidental because it was an outside force (death of her father and perhaps moving as a result of his death?).

Brooke Kuehn said:

Carissa, i never thought of that. You're right, Plath very well may have just used 10 beacause it proved her point in the poem. Unless she had a bad relationship with her father, i can't see how moving would be worse than losing her father.

Leave a comment

Type the characters you see in the picture above.