Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath
"Lady Lazarus" is a complicated, dark, and brutal poem originally published in the collection Ariel. It is commonly interpreted as an expression of Plath's suicidal attempts and impulses. Its tone veers between menacing and scathing, and it has drawn attention for its use of Holocaust imagery. The title is an allusion to the Biblical character, Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead.
Most interpretations about Lady Lazarus suggest that it is about multiple suicide attempts. That can certainly be understood by how the poem is written and presented. When the speaker says she "has done it again," what we believe she means is that she has attempted suicide once again, and we deduce that it is for the third time. Each attempt occurred in a different decade, and she is now 30 years old. She has once again been pulled back to life here, and this attempt once again was thwarted. However, being alive is thought as a failure and suicide attempts are thought as accomplishments. She seems to believe she will reach a perfection through escaping her body.
By describing dying as an art, she includes a spectator to both her deaths and resurrections. Because the death is considered a performance, it requires an audience. In large part, she kills herself to punish them for driving her to it. The audience is invited but criticized for actually being there. The crowd includes the reader himself, since he is reading the poem. The writer assumes that the people watching would pay the "large charge" to see her scars and heart.
Our writer sees this impulse as repulsive and compares the crowd to the complacent Germans who stood aside while the Jews were thrown into concentration camps. She also see the crowd proves less of an encouragement than a burden when they also attend the resurrection. She despises this second part of the process, and resents the presence of others at that time. Whether this creates a vicious circle, in which that...