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Sylvia's Use of Senses in Ariel

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 06:12 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 52.1 
  • Words: 2301
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\"Ariel\" possesses power and importance, a certain element of orgasmic stress to the degree to which the horseback ride Plath once took becomes something more—a ride into the abyss of the unknown, a stare back into the eye of the sun, an odyssey to death, a stripping of personality and selfhood, a sort of blatant exposition. To treat \"Ariel\" as a confessional poem is to suggest that its actual importance lies in the horse- ride taken by its author, in the author\'s psychological problems, or in its position within the biographical development of the author. None of these issues is as significant as the imagistic and thematic developments rendered by the poem itself.

Probably the finest single construction of Plath, \"Ariel\" has articulate precision and depth of its images. In its account of the ritual journey toward the center of life and death, Plath perfects her method of leaping from image to image in order to represent mental process. The sensuousness and concreteness of the poem—the \"Black sweet blood mouthfuls\" of the berries; the \"glitter of seas\"—is unmatched in contemporary American poetry. We see, hear, touch, and taste the process of disintegration: the horse emerging from the darkness of the morning, the sun beginning to rise as Ariel rushes uncontrollably across the countryside, the rider trying to catch the brown neck but instead \"tasting\" the blackberries on the side of the road. Then all the rider\'s perceptions are thrown together: the horse\'s body and the rider\'s merge. She hears her own cry as if it were that of a child and flies toward the burning sun that has now risen.

To a reader who is unaware of Plath’s biography “ARIEL” would probably most immediately call to mind the \"airy spirit\" who in Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a servant to Prospero and symbolizes Prospero’s control of the upper elements of the universe, fire and air. And seen from a more intimate level, “ARIEL” was the name of her favorite horse, on...

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