Portrayal of nature and natural world in Plath's poem 'Tulips'

908 Words Oct 7th, 2013 4 Pages
Explore the way Sylvia Plath presents nature and the natural world in her poem ‘Tulips’

‘Tulips’ is a poem that was written by Sylvia Plath in 1961 and was published after her death in 1965. Plath wrote this poem while recovering in hospital after recently having a miscarriage and having an appendectomy. This poem, set in the hospital, expresses Plath’s feelings and emotions at this time in her life.
Nature and the natural world are themes, which are portrayed, in a negative light in many of Plath’s poems, ‘Tulips’ included. She saw nature as a threat, and something that oppressed her, exposed her or caused her pain. In her poem ‘Tulips’ nature, specifically the tulips themselves, are personified which causes her to be reminded of
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For Plath, nature comes to life in the sixth stanza, she imagines that she can ‘hear [the tulips] breathe…like an awful baby’ which brings her pain as she has recently suffered a miscarriage and it reminds her of the loss of her child and also it makes the tulips seem threatening. The tulips are portrayed as mysterious and threatening in a paradox that is at the end of this stanza, ‘they seem to float, though they weigh me down’, the weight of them is dragging her down, back to life and reality, which she is trying to let go of and escape from.
In the seventh stanza Plath becomes paranoid about nature, she feels as though the threatening tulips are staring at her, as though she is under surveillance, ‘now I am watched. The tulips turn to me’ She creates a very threatening environment portraying nature as the dangerous element, ‘The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.’ This line tells the reader that these flowers are trying to kill Plath, which is ironic as this is what she truly wants. However, because the tulips are a reminder to her of life it creates the image that it is life itself that is killing her.
Plath expresses resentment for nature when the tulips are intrusive and they disrupt the calm in the air, ‘the tulips filled it up like a loud noise’. Plath makes another reference to water in the eighth stanza but the image created in this stanza is not as soothing and peaceful as before. The river in this stanza represents the air surrounding Plath,

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