Monday, 20 March 2017

Comment on the use of Holocaust imagery in Lady Lazarus:Lady Lazarus poem critical analysis

Comment on the use of Holocaust imagery in Lady Lazarus

     Lady Lazarus the much celebrated work of Sylvia Plath opens a window to the poet’s personal life , foregrounding the historical context of the holocaust
     She has  constructed a female counterpart of the biblical character Lazarus who was resurrected by Jesus Christ. The character Lady Lazarus was indeed the representation of her broken self and agonized soul . She has skilfully placed her fanciful construction of her persona against the holocaust background where her persona, the complex self turns to be the sufferer in the hands of the torturer( dictator) . Often she leaves her real self behind and takes up the identity of a jewish sufferer.  

    Obviously Plath’s  life between 1932 and 1963  falls on the era of war.  Plath’s Lady Lazarus repletes with Nazi torture allusions interweaving elements of fantasy , metaphor and identity throughout the poem. She has indeed explored a new device for recalling Nazi violence by fantasizing a torturer from the real historical context by using extremely complex and challenging motifs and narratives. The ambivalent approach towards life and religion that she maintained ever since her father Otto Plath's death found an outlet through the extremely erotic attraction she feels for the torturer .
     The female or feminized victim( Plath) suffers, tortured by a Nazi dictator. The punisher suppresses their victims ruthlessly  and the victims turns  ‘skin and bone’ which instills a deep yearning for the “theatrical come back” to combat the enemy with a surprising vengeance to “ eat men like ear”. These images and metaphors takes us to the blood thirsty tormentors of the concentration camps where the victims are given slow death:
These are my hands,
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,
(Lady Lazarus 11).
.    Plath has so vehemently portrayed the agonies and sufferings of the Jews and her intention was to depict how these nuclear victim felt. At the same time she was trying to identify the nuclear victim’s sufferings with her broken self that suffered in the hands a male- dominated society. At some point the point of identification transcends the personal and moves to the universal.Towards the end this relationship is blurred and here the universal and personal dissolves into one single identity. The female body is commercialized and it becomes a spectacle. Her persona is revealed in front of a peanut crunching crowd where she exposes her fractured self , for the watching of which she fixes a charge.
   
    She is the ‘opus’, ‘the valuable’ and the ‘pure gold baby’ overpowered by ‘Herr Enemy’ and  finally melts to shriek’. Burnt to ash, she is reduced to a ‘cake of soap’,  or a ‘wedding ring’,or  a ‘gold filling’. The final image of the  Lady Lazarus,  rising  ‘Out of ashes of her own annihilated self like a phoenix bird , in order to eat her tormentor like air, is indeed a theatrical one.  
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