Lazarus of Bethany is the subject of a miracle recounted in the Bible where Jesus restores Lazarus to life after four days of being dead. Plath sees herself as the female Lazarus, who has been raised from the dead three times and thus a miracle. Like the sense of miracle, Plath sees her deaths like Lazaruss for they dont fall into the category of usual deaths.
Sylvia Plath completed her masterpiece, Lady Lazarus, in the days before her suicide in 1963, while in a condition of disturbance, suffering and obsession. This is not just a poem; rather a message to others about her life, her enemies, and her struggles with everything from her family to mental stability. Lady Lazarus conveys Plath's real life suicide attempts and a detailed explanation of her psychological troubles.
In Lady Lazarus, she horrifically describes the yearning for attention she has always wanted. By using the most expressive ways possible she enters the audience's imaginative minds by using symbolism, theme, and imagery throughout this poem to help open the true meaning of this piece.
Lady Lazarus is a poem meant to open the audience's eyes to the world of evil and shame. Plath boasts her ability to survive accidents and suicide attempts. She opens with a casual tone and giving off an ironic sense of success as the poet comes back from surviving death. Plath sees herself as a sort of walking miracle, drawing parallel with Lazarus, whom Jesus raised the dead. Bringing together the biblical story along with the horrifying images of the Nazi concentration camps. As reading this poem, the true definition and meaning is to derive all of her weaknesses and heartfelt guilt into one memorable moment like the Holocaust.
Within the first three lines of her autobiographical poem, Plath catches the reader with a strong image and message, by stating she has attempted suicide three times. Plath proclaims, "I have done it again. / One year in every ten / I manage it." She is ultimately implying she had attempted suicide at age ten, twenty, and thirty. However, Sylvia Plath did not attempt suicide at age ten, but considering the fact that her father died when she was eight years old. She could consider his death as a suicide because a part of her soul died as well as her father's death haunted and upset her throughout her life. Plath's control with these powerful lines creates vivid images and entices the reader from the first line.
Plath creates a metaphorical image of being `swallowed up' by the "grave cave" as well as portraying the concept of claustrophobia and being ensnared in a deep abyss. In 1953, after returning from McLean psychiatric hospital in Boston, Plath attempted suicide for the second time in her life, by overdosing on a mixture of sleeping pills and then hiding in the crawl space, otherwise known as "the cave." Plath also ties in the line "The sour breath will vanish by day" to this incident, because of body decomposition, her body will no longer be around and her scents will vanish and be overcome by smells that are more horrific.
Lines 25 through 27 are also in relation to Plath's 1953 suicide attempt because of the news headlines Plath made when her mother found her unconscious and vomiting in the basement crawl space, as well as the lengths that friends and family went to, in order to find her. This is not the sole deduction that can be found from line 25; it also holds meaning to Plath's use of biblical reference in the title. Plath largely speaks of "a million filaments" and "the peanut crunching crowd." The "peanut crunching crowd" is analogous to Plath's family members who were eager to aid in searching for her upon her disappearance, as well as strangers who watched as the event unfolded via the press and media, considering Plath's disappearance received national attention. In the same respect the use of "a million filaments" can be related to the flashbulbs of the reporters when the press flocked to Plath upon her discovery in the crawl space and revival at McLean.
Plath speaks of her character like that of a cat; she has nine times to die. In total, Plath's attempted suicide three times, and was successful on the fourth. Sylvia Plath finally took her life by creating a gas chamber with her stove in the kitchen of her London flat. Plath creatively uses the line, " What a trash / To annihilate each decade", to imply that she has attempted suicide three times, once in each decade, first when she was 19, and again at age 20 and 30. The death of her beloved mother and father, haunted each decade of her rather short life.
Plath's final unveiling of her own life's events and her story of suicide is viewed in stanza fourteen when she says:
As a sea shell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
This stanza shows the severe experience that Plath describes in her book The Bell Jar, in which Esther Greenwooda character based on herselfwalked into the ocean in an attempt to go underwater, never to return, thus drowning. The vivid imagery of "picking worms off" like "sticky pearls, shows the end result that she was rescued and revived, but, yet again, failed at suicide. Plath wanted death so badly; she committed these chilling acts more than once. Though she was unsuccessful, Plath would slowly force herself to the thing she desired and obsessed over - death.
Considering Sylvia Plath's suicide attempts, one may compare Lazarus with Plath. Self-destruction is impossible to avoid in the poem, just as it was in Plath's real life. Lazarus is resurrected from death; if we compare Lazarus with the mythical feminist version of Plath, we can see the similarities. Plath is `Lady Lazarus' and is reincarnated after each suicide attempt, thus, she is like a cat, and has nine times to die, furthermore leading to Plath's infamous thought, "Dying / is an art, like everything else. / I do it exceptionally well."