Empowerment of Women in Sylvia Plath's Lady Lazarus and Eavan Boland's Anorexic

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Empowerment of Women in Sylvia Plath's Lady Lazarus and Eavan Boland's Anorexic


Although the title foreshadows an extrinsic approach, this essay mostly features intrinsic analysis. Eavan Boland's "Anorexic" seems descendent from Sylvia Plath's "Lady Lazarus": the two share common elements, yet have significant differences. An examination of the poems' themes reveals that self-destructiveness can serve as empowerment for women.

Plath explores Lady Lazarus' nontraditional view of suicide in her poem; (since Plath does not give the speaker of the poem a name, I will refer to her as Lady Lazarus). Lady Lazarus reveals her first suicide was accidental, but she reveals that her two subsequent deaths have been deliberate. This is
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In renaming her starvation arson, she both echoes Plath and familiarizes the reader with the severity of her intent: her self-opinion is elusive, but clearly she despises her body: "Now the bitch is burning.//She has learned her lesson" (15, 18). Likely a nod to Plath, Boland mostly uses three-lined stanzas; her conciseness can be considered symbolic of the reductiveness of anorexia, and the woman's desire to physically reduce herself. In identifying herself, the woman declares "I am starved and curveless./I am skin and bone" (16-17). This minimalist perception of herself is nostalgic of Lady Lazarus remaining as only ashes, wedding ring, etc: both of these woman are temporally proximal to self-inflicted death. Finally, Boland includes a religious reference, like Plath, only less overtly: the rib to which the woman compares herself and "the fall" suggests Adam and Eve.

Lady Lazarus declares she has nine lives, and that she will kill herself every ten years, asserting control of her fate and existence; "To annihilate each decade" (24) is to ensure her the freedom from her past to define her future self, to paraphrase Sartre. Plath's Nazi allusion is not well defined by the text, thus, this could be a subtle criticism of Adolf Hitler's manifestation of anti-nihilism, (his…