Compare and Contrast of Sylvia Plath and Sharon Olds Essays

911 Words Dec 4th, 2011 4 Pages
Sylvia Plath vs. Sharon Olds

Katherine Waldman

A traditional American household has changed throughout the years to the point where ‘traditional’ isn’t even politically correct to depict anything about a family anymore. But if we look back to the standard traditional household and there was always a father, a mother, and a 2.5 children. The father has always been designated as the head of the household and something that Sylvia Plath and Sharon Olds have in common is just that, that they grew up during a father-dominated time, in a father-dominated family, and this lifestyle is reflective in their poetry as well.
“The Colossus” by Sylvia Plath is about the pain and hardships she experienced with her father’s death. Sylvia’s
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In Plath’s poem she replaced her father, not with a lover or romantic interest but with a Colossus. Shari Jones also says that never bonding with your father could make you feel as if there is a whole in your life which you will be trying to fill your entire life. After reading this it just makes sense that the Colossus is Plath’s coping mechanism and her way of filling that whole created by her father. Colossus is an “oracle, mouthpiece of the dead” through which her father can speak to her, fulfilling the dominant role he has neglected her entire life.
In “Saturn” Olds uses her father to evaluate the male role in society and through this patriarchal structure how a father’s addiction (in her father’s case alcoholism) can have a disturbing effect on a family. The poem begins with her father literally passed out drunk: “He lay on the couch night after night, mouth open…big hand, fallen away from the glass”. The reference to her father being an alcoholic and then the later comparison to Saturn eating his sons is a metaphor for causing a family’s life to “slowly, disappear down the hole of the father’s life”. The cannibalism is also a metaphor for the damaging teaching style that the father used to make sure it was known he was the dominating male in that household, in that family. The father is devouring his son’s source of life, emotionally damaging and weakening him in order to show him what a man was

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