Lady Lazarus: Sylvia Plath -
Line by line analysis
1 Lots of similarities between Plath and Lady L
2 Line 1: "I have done it again"
2.1 "it" means
death; she has
2.1.1 Narrator/Lady L has
died and resurrected
before (line 2: "One
year in every ten").
2.1.2 Uses an ambiguous term; doesn't
tell us whether she is currently
dead or alive; it is a broad word -
an umbrella term.
3 Lazarus: a biblical reference/a
story from the bible about the
resurrection of Lazarus.
4 Lines 4-9:
4.1 Refers to the rumours
that Nazi used the bodies
of slaughtered Jews to
make everyday objects
4.1.1 Line 4/5: "my
skin, bright as a
18.104.22.168 Lines 4-9 are all
metaphors as far
as we can tell; we
assume Lady L is
but the poem itself
it ambiguous and
she may in fact be
in her current, dead
4.1.2 line 6/7: "my
right foot a
4.1.3 line 8/9: "my face a
4.1.4 The narrator/Plath
compares herself to
Holocaust victims and
even at one point at
the very end of the
herself being burnt
alive in the
crematorium of a
concentration camp, ("I
turn and burn", "ash,
ash-", "you poke and
stir" and "out of the
ash i rise with my red
22.214.171.124 Graphic disturbing images
help express Lady L's feelings
(and perhaps Plath's too)
126.96.36.199.1 *emotive and powerful language*
188.8.131.52 Plath may see
herself as Lady L
(speculation) as it is
known that she
depression and was
treated badly at the
hands of her
5 In lines 10-12, Lady L
says: "Peel off the
napkin, O, my enemy.
Do I terrify?--"
5.1 she directly addresses the audience here;
this creates a sense of fear for the
audience and a sense of power for the
5.1.1 the use of the direct yet rhetorical question is a display
of the narrator's power: they know the answer to the
question: as well as Lady L does: yes, the graphic
descriptions and morbid imagery does scare us.
5.2 when she refers to her enemy, we
aren't sure who exactly she's addressing
- is it us as the readers, is it a broad
and all encompassing term? Is she
being specifically vague and keeping the
identity of her enemy concealed?
Perhaps, her enemy is the death and
resurrection she faces each decade.
6 Lines 13-18 are graphic and morbid
descriptions of Lady L's dead
appearance: another shock tactic.
6.1 Line 13 says: "The nose, the eye pits,
the full set of teeth?" - this is a list of
three and a rhetorical question that
expands on the previous line that says:
"Do I terrify?--"
6.1.1 She knows she is terrifying to behold and again
this is a show of narrative power that aims to
stir feelings of fear and repulsion in the audience.
6.1.2 the list of three used here simply allows Lady L to emphasize that she is
dead; her eyes are sockets but her teeth are whole, she walks and she is
human but she is not alive. It's emphasizing that she is in fact dead at
this point. Grotesque and unhuman and, ultimately yes, terrifying.
6.2 It is all synonymous with death and
corpses and the living dead/walking
6.3 lines 14 speaks of "the
sour breath" that is a
common affliction among
the dead (but is also ironic
as the dead don't/shouldn't
6.3.1 the use of this irony adds a bitterness
to the tone of the poem.
6.4 line 15 says: "will vanish
in a day" - this is a follow
on from line 14 and is
telling us that when she's
dead again, the sour
breath will be gone - as
will she.. Symbolism?
7 Line 15-18 say: "soon,
soon the flesh the
grave cave ate will be
at home on me"
7.1 Repetition of "soon" is simply for emphasis
7.2 this stanza is
telling us that
Lady L has
7.3 "grave",, "cave" and "ate" -
the repetition of a vowel
sound - assonance