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Edge Analysis

Author: Poetry of Sylvia Plath Type: Poetry Views: 2298

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The Collected Poems1963The woman is perfected

Her deadBody wears the smile of accomplishment,

The illusion of a Greek necessityFlows in the scrolls of her toga,

Her bareFeet seem to be saying:

We have come so far, it is over.Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,

One at each littlePitcher of milk, now empty

She has foldedThem back into her body as petals

Of a rose close when the gardenStiffens and odors bleed

From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.The moon has nothing to be sad about,

Staring from her hood of bone.She is used to this sort of thing.

Her blacks crackle and drag.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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Although it seems at fist that the speaker and Plath herself are both idealizing the idea of suicide after re-reading another interpretation becomes apparent. The allusions to Greek mythology and their suggesting that suicide is honorable and a necessity are described as only 'illusions'. This contradicts the Greek's idea implying that it isn't heroic and is unneeded.
Also the garden used later on in the poem can be seen as a metaphor for the outside world. It 'stiffens' suggesting it is angry and repulsed by the infanticide displayed. A garden doesn't stiffen the very thought is unnatural and so implies that the suicide and murdering of her children is unnatural also.
Finally the sinister note the poem concludes with is a massive contrast to the beginning where vocab such as 'perfected' and achievement' is used. The final picture of the moon and her reaction is dark and ominous giving the view that the whole matter is something dark and cruel.
Megan S x

| Posted on 2013-09-29 | by a guest

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\"the woman is perfected\", in this line it is important to extend our outlook into a new dimention of the word perfected, and consider its origin. The origin of the word suggests that it was used to carry the meaning \"compleate\".
Using this analysis it makes more sense to the finality theme throughout the poem. \"she\" was compleated, her task before the edge was done, and that made \"her\" feel accomplished. It was okay to go now.

| Posted on 2010-12-25 | by a guest

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could \'perfected\' refer to the dressing done in the funeral parlours

posted on 15-12-10

| Posted on 2010-12-15 | by a guest

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I believe that in stanza 5, that Plath is reffering to the traditional position of death. "White serpent" would be her fingers coiling around eachother. And pitcher of milk would be her breasts, since she is a mother, "She has folded."

| Posted on 2009-12-03 | by a guest

.: :.

Plath's edge, is a poem of resignation.
As her last poem before her suicide, it shows plath trying to foreshadow her death with poetic force.
No longer fighting her demons, or her battle over herself identity mentioned in earlier poems such as words, mirror and winter trees; she has reached a state of total nihilism. By reducing her self to a state of non-being she can become 'perfectly' still.
Her identity can be reistablished, be it as nothing.
By folding her children back into her body as petals, she conjures a wonderful image of the slow closing of a 'rose' - it is her slow resignition as a mother. Importantly, this is the only thing Plath says goodbye to in this poem, neglecting her role as a lover and a poet. As it seems the children have stolen her identity and left her as no longer 'plath the writer' but rather as 'mother' - and now that her pitcher of milk is empty. Plath has become too resighned to be a mother & her state of nihilism welcomes death.
The harsh alliterration at the end, depicts the negative atmosphere that surrounds suicide that could hinder her state of perfection. Depressingly, Sylvia may never reach her final state of nothingness.

| Posted on 2009-05-09 | by a guest

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This poem has a strong sense of finality. The short stanzas and the shortness of the poem illustrates the narrator’s exhaustion, that she has reached a point at which she can no longer bring herself to express herself at length. However, the narrator does not appear saddened by this fact as she ‘wears a smile of accomplishment’. This indicates that she is resolved to her state and does not wish to fight it any more, but has allowed herself to give in to the exhaustion. The narrator does not appear to have any regrets aside from the children who will become ‘dead’ to her, as she clearly believes them to be beautiful and fragile, like ‘petals’. Though she is clearly saddened by this, it does not break her resolve or alter her desire for death as ‘she is used to this sort of thing’ and has made her decision and so will stick to it.

| Posted on 2008-12-11 | by a guest

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This poem seems to glorify death and is very stoic in the approach towards it. Death seems to be an accomplishment and as the woman in the poem lays dead, she is 'perfected.' This depicts death as a state in which a person's flaws are ignored and perhaps shows a desire to die in the narrator. Rather in than fight off death, the narrator seems to have accepted it as an inevitability in her submissive tone, 'we have come this far, it is over.'
The whole poem is extremely foreboding of Plath's suicide which is said to have occurred a mere few days after she had wrote this poem. The narrator has resigned herself to her impending death and is now making the preparations to do so. She seems to be taking with her to her grave important parts of her being, her children whom 'she has folded back into her body as petals.' The final stanzas of the poem are extremely poignant. The moon seems to watch on as she prepares to die, with 'nothing to be sad about' as she 'is used to this sort of thing.' This perhaps implies that death is once again an inevitability and reflects a loss of self value in the narrator, her death is just one of the many the moon sees and there is nothing extraordinary about it.

| Posted on 2008-12-10 | by a guest

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In this poem the narrator suggests that she has been longing to die for a long time. In the first stanza she refers to ‘the woman is perfected. Her dead’ which appears to be that once she has ended her life, she is perfected. Death is what she desired and death is what she wants to achieve. Like ‘Death & Co’ there is vampiric imagery used throughout the poem, the narrator explains how the ‘stiffens and odors bleed’ Again, with the use of the noun ‘blood’ the narrator expresses how she enjoys the thought of death onto the following line where she writes ‘From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.’ This appears to show how she sees death in a positive way, with the use of the adjective ‘sweet’.

| Posted on 2008-12-10 | by a guest

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From this poem the reader can see that the narrator has planned her suicide as she has left each child a 'pitcher of milk', which as we know Plath did before she killed herself. The narrator sees death as an 'accomplishment', and 'the woman is perfected' which shows the narrator believes death is an achievement and an escape. This poem can be cross-referenced to 'Poppies in July' as the narrator talks about a 'rose' which is the colour of blood, which is referred to a lot in Plath's poetry.
Sophie C

| Posted on 2008-12-10 | by a guest

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The references to Greece run throughout this poem. The ‘Greek necessity’ is suicide, as Greeks considered suicide to be an honourable choice under the right circumstances, which implies that the narrator’s suicide was the best choice for her and possibly most of the people around her. She wears a toga, the white colour of which could suggest purity and therefore emphasises the idea that her suicide was not a sin, but something good. The colour imagery itself runs through the circle of life to death; white for childish innocence and purity, red of the flowers for the suicide and ‘blacks’ for death. The way the narrator ‘[folds her children] back into her body’ shows infinite care and love for her children even though she could not make herself live any longer just because of her love for them as something more was needed.

| Posted on 2008-12-10 | by a guest

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The poem has a sense of sadness and death is mentioned repeatedly, the poem has a dark undertone with a disturbing image of ‘each dead child coiled, a white serpent’. It becomes obvious to the reader that the narrator is considering suicide, she is pleased and the dead body is described as being ‘perfected’. This shows the narrator feels death is perfect and a positive experience. The narrator appears to have accepted her fate, happy and relieved, this is shown as ‘[her] body wears the smile of accomplishment’.
The narrator uses colours such as ‘red’, ‘white’ and ‘black’ to portray her emotions and to add to the imagery in the poem.
Sophie B

| Posted on 2008-12-10 | by a guest

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In this the poem the narrator seems to have a resigned acceptance of death, ‘[she has] come so far, it is over.’ This suggests that death is somewhat of a relief for her and that she may even desire it. At the beginning of the poem ‘the woman is perfected’ suggesting that the narrator sees death as something perfect and flawless. Plath uses three of her favourite colours to add to the vivid imagery of the poem; black, white and rose red. They seem to represent death as is the case in many of her other poems. The woman’s ‘body wears the smile of accomplishment, the illusion of a Greek necessity.’ For the Greeks suicide was not something to be ashamed of it was often necessary and the only option, here Plath uses this allusion to portray a sense of accomplishment. It seems that she would see killing herself as an achievement and something she is proud of.

| Posted on 2008-12-10 | by a guest

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