Two Currents Essays

Submitted By Jeremy-Brotherton
Words: 1485
Pages: 6

Two Currents "It is as if my life were magically run by two electric currents: joyous positive and despairing negative—whichever is running at the moment dominates my life, floods it." This 1958 journal entry seems to suggest dual currents were a part of the poet’s life. Examples of some of the contrasts that she talks about in her work is, love and hate, Nazi German and Jew, life and death, cycle end and cycle beginning up again. Plath herself was thought to have extreme contrasts with-in her. One moment she would be really happy then the next she would crash into a deep depression. Contrast is something that shows up in quite a lot of Sylvia Plath’s poems. In the poem “Daddy” I noticed Love and hate plus Nazi German and Jew, In “Childless Woman” there is Death and life, the poem “Lady Lazarus” she talks about End of one cycle and a birth of a new. Sylvia Plath uses contrast in her poems. In Daddy she talks about her father’s German roots in the part of the poem where she says, “In the German tongue” (Plath 827). And due to his roots she uses it to drive her point which was, his oppressive nature was like what the Jews experienced in Nazi Germany. She peppers the poem with Nazi references for example in a part where she’s talking about, “Chuffing me off like a Jew. A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen” (827). She makes reference to concentration camps. She also says, “And your Aryan eye, bright blue. Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You-- Not God but a swastika” (828). And the final example of her comparing her father to a Nazi is when she says, “A man in black with a Meinkampf look” (828) referring to Hitler’s autobiography. She compares herself to a Jew a few times, once when making the concentration camp reference and another when she says. “With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack I may be a bit of a Jew” (827). In the poem Daddy she also shows her hate for her father or rather the memory of her father that haunts her. She displays this feeling when she makes comments like “Daddy, I have had to kill you. You died before I had the time” (826). Further examples of her hate are when she compares her father to the Nazis and Hitler. But where there is hate, there is love. While that love isn’t blatantly shown in this poem, the anger and hate shows she cared enough at one point to invest her feelings in this man, but at some point he betrayed her. Maybe it was his death when she was 10 years old that caused this feeling of betrayal? Another example of her use of contrast can be found in “Lady Lazarus” where she talks about ends of cycles trying to kill her and the beginning of new ones the urge to die ended and she found “life” again. She starts the poem by saying, “I have done it again. One year in every ten I manage it” (Lazarus) Saying that every ten years she has the urge to kill herself. At the middle of the poem she mentions, “The first time it happened I was ten. It was an accident. The second time I meant To last it out and not come back at all.” (Lazarus) But when she says, “'A miracle!' That knocks me out. There is a charge For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge For the hearing of my heart-- It really goes. And there is a charge, a very large charge For a word or a touch Or a bit of blood” (Lazarus). It shows that she is clinging onto something. So it helps her find the “charge” the urge to live and try at life. Thus the cycle starts all over. Kind of like a phoenix rising from her ashes. She even alludes to such a metaphor when she says, “Out of the ash I rise with my red hair And I eat men like air” (Lazarus). Then there is the poem Childless Woman where the contrast isn’t as blatant. She talks about a womb when she says, “The womb Rattles its pod” (Woman). Then goes on to talk about babies shrieking, “Ungodly as a child's shriek.” (Woman) So a new life, rather the concept of a new life is mentioned. But she then mentions death when she says, “My funeral, And this hill