How Does Sylvia Plath Use Humor

Decent Essays

Death is Funny: Sylvia Plath’s Use of Humor in Lady Lazarus Humor and Sylvia Plath are words not generally heard in the same sentence. Although her poetry is widely read, we as a society tend to associate her writing with the inherent darkness in her words, and we tend to ignore everything else, particularly with regards to the poetry she wrote near the end of her life. The morbidity in her writing is most definitely there, but it is often expressed using humor. I will be examining Plath’s poem Lady Lazarus, and in particular the way that Plath uses humor throughout the poem through her use of sarcasm, hyperbole and absurd comparisons, rhyme, and circus imagery. I will also be looking at the possible reasons why Plath uses humor throughout Lady Lazarus, and what purpose it serves as a literary device. Plath’s strong use of sarcasm is present in Lady Lazarus from the very first lines of the poem; Plath writes: “I have done it again/One year in every ten/I manage it –“ (Plath, 1-3). This opening stanza is very tongue-in-cheek, and through the seemingly nondescript, nonchalant way she begins the poem, it sets up the first stanza as a foil for the next stanza, which begins: “A sort of walking miracle, my skin/Bright as a Nazi lampshade,” (4-5). The contrast between the content of the first and second stanzas gives the first stanza a very sarcastic tone. It sets up the concept that death is no big deal to Plath; she’s died every ten years. The opening line, “I have done

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