” I am made, crudely, for success.” No one could have seen that within a short while of Sylvia Plath committing suicide in February 1963, she would emerge as one of the Titans of 20th century poetry. While the breath of life had deserted Sylvia`s body, it had transmigrated her soul into a new vessel; her body of work gratefully received the spark of life, turning her name into one of literary, international superstar.
Dying intestate, her life`s work was handed over to the very person who she had perceived as an enemy in her last months – her estranged husband, Ted Hughes. He basically had the power of life and death over her works, but put everything into order ( after a few nip and tucks to protect his reputation from her waspish comments), and proceeded to publish everything she had written over the next few years.
Some of Plath`s most memorable and abrasive poems were written during her final weeks; they are like blocks of ice, chiseled by the sharp surgical instrument of her turbulent, agitated mind. Hurt, bewilderment, rage, stoic calm and bitter resignation are etched into every line; the language is economical and precise as she spits venomous anger at the world around her.
Lady Lazarus can be seen as Plath herself struggling against a life she sees as an intolerable burden to carry, and of the many times that she has tried to lay down the weight on her soul; only like a cat which has nine lives, to suffer rebirth again, and again. She sees her death as a theatrical event, where people come to view the show, until, she imagines death as nothing more than a performance for the entertainment of others. At the end, phoenix like, Lady Lazarus resurrects yet again, to “eat men like air.”
Sylvia Plath was host to a myriad of contradictory characteristics; her thoughts were like manic, flesh eating demons, constantly threshing and energizing her psyche. Perhaps her suicide was to silence the carnivorous voices within, which drove her on like a great, railed beast, belching out it`s sulphurous steam until it hit the buffers.