Commentary on 'Two Sisters of Persephone' Essay Example

Commentary on ‘Two Sisters of Persephone’ Essay

The poem ‘Two Sisters of Persephone’ by Sylvia Plath is a truly remarkable piece that I greatly enjoyed reading. This piece is filled with numerous symbols, allegories, and images that stand out to the reader and they become more vivid each time you look deeper and deeper into the piece.

In literal terms, the poem is about two girls that lead complete opposite lives and have different duties to fulfill. The poem goes on describing what they do and the settings of where they perform their rightful tasks. What is rather interesting about the poem is that we are tricked into believing the first sister leads the cold, bitter life. Plath uses words with negative connotation to give the character a stressed out and hopeless feel. She ties in the thoughts of problems, darkness, and un-fruitful work to the character of the first sister.

The poem then suddenly twists into a brighter and warmer mood when Plath starts talking about the second sister. At first sight, the words trick us into believing she is truly happy and peaceful. Words like ‘lulled’, and ‘bright air’, bring a positive connotation to the second sister. When we look at the words carefully, we see that she truly isn’t really that happy.

When Plath says she was lulled near a bed of poppies, we get the thought that she may be drugged, since poppies are an opiate. This brings us to the thought that maybe she isn’t here on her own will, or maybe she is forced to be in this place. The stanzas start to become violent and describe nature’s destructive side in the first three lines of the fifth stanza. Plath uses beautiful imagery here to describe the color of the poppies and how they open to the sun. She describes the sun as having a blade, which could symbolize its harsh rays of heat and light. She also paints the picture in our heads the poppies are the colour of blood.

The sixth stanza brings us to believe that she is pregnant with the sun’s child. Now symbolically, the sun is a symbol of god in many religions, and the sun’s children could be the living creatures of nature. The interesting part of this poem, is when the author enjambs the line to connect with the first line of the seventh stanza. When we read it quickly at the beginning, we think Plath is talking about the first sister, but when we follow the punctuation she uses, we discover that it’s not the first sister, but rather the second sister who is ‘turned bitter and sallow as any lemon’.

In the last three lines of the poem, Plath talks about the first sister being a virgin going graveward. Due to the title of the poem ‘Two sisters of Persephone’, I am lead to believe that she is going to the underworld when Plath mentions the word ‘graveward’. The last line, ‘worm husbanded, yet no woman’ may mean that she never liked or admired her husband, which is probably why she is still a virgin. Also, the fact that Plath states her virginity as being flesh laid to waste, suggests that this may be frowned upon in the society of the poem, or maybe she wasn’t fulfilling her duty as a woman.

I believe that the two women in the poem are an allusion to Plath’s roles in life. She mentions that shade and light play between the two women, which further backs up my belief that she lives with these personalities inside of her throughout the day and night. The woman inside the house represents Plath’s working side where she is a writer with freedom, but is seen as having achieved nothing (refer to lines 9 and 10) and being unfruitful in her work. The woman on the outside of the house represents Plath’s role as a mother with responsibilities, but at the end of the day, both are bitter, sallow and faced with death.

Plath writes her poem in free verse with occasional rhymes in the third fourth and first line of the fifth stanzas. In the sixth, she rhymes ‘bride’ with ‘pride’. Her tone throughout the poem is rather frank, and a tad depressing when you get to the end.

My opinion on this piece is that it is strangely dark in a beautiful way. The more you work into the piece, the more you understand Plath’s thoughts when she was writing the piece. To me, I can relate to this because, I understand the double role of having to cope with family life and school and sometimes juggling both at the same time can be depressing, or troublesome. I also believe that a large portion of this poem is an allegory and how anyone perceives the poem is upon the individuals opinions and thoughts.

A large portion of the poem is an allegory- meaning it has another meaning than its physical statement. How we perceive the poem is upon our own opinions- but consider this!

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