Lady Lazarus Summary & Analysis by Sylvia Plath

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Sylvia Plath wrote "Lady Lazarus" in 1962, during a creative burst of energy in the months before her death by suicide in 1963. The poem which remains one of Plath's most enduring works. "Lady Lazarus," is both the title of the poem, and its speaker—much like the biblical Lazarus, the man Jesus resurrected from the dead in the Gospel of John, the speaker is also resurrected by external forces, and more than once. This resurrection, however, is unwanted—the speaker reveals she wants to die in order to escape the profound suffering caused by living in an oppressive, male-dominated society. Instead, the speaker is forced to come back to life, each revival a carnival-like performance for a "peanut-crunching crowd." However, the speaker warns her enemies—the men who bring her back to life—eventually she will return and "eat men like air," demonstrating a complicated dynamic of empowerment and hopelessness. Using metaphors of death and resurrection, Plath provides a dark insight into the suicidal mind, as well as a critique of society's twisted fascination with suffering, and of the horror of a being a woman in a patriarchal world.

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