Instructor Afrah Adil Mahmood
Ministry of Higher Education, Iraq /University of Samarra/ College of Education
This study aims to explore the university students’ recognition of the confessional expressions that appeared in Sylvia Plath’s two poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’. The problem of this study is the student’s disability to recognize the confessional expressions, whereas the limitation is the fourth year students in English Department at Samarra university during the academic year 2020-2021.The procedure that presents in this study is the achievement test that contains two questions, each question is allotted twenty-five marks, by this way the total marks are fifty. The population of this study is all the students in English department, while the sample is thirty students that have been chosen randomly. Test and retest have been done and by this way the reliability is achieved. Both tests take one hour and they are under the same conditions and have the same results. Face validity is achieved by having the jury members (teachers in English department) who agreed about the procedures of this study. The researcher supposed that the students in the fourth year at English management have no ability to find the confessional expressions in both Plath’s two poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’. According to that, the hypothesis of this study is the correct one because it is achieved, Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) is one of the confessional poets who distinguished themselves by their experiences, and their personal problems with their families. She tries to reflect a picture of her inner dilemma and suffering with the people surrounding her, especially men and more specifically her husband, Ted Hughes. In order to give a vivid picture about her style in confessional mode, two of her poems are chosen and analyzed in this study.
The confessional poetry is considered as the impersonal reaction specifically in the early of twentieth century.
Keywords: Find out, Recognition and Confessional Expressions.
تهدف مشكلة هذه الدراسة كشف عن أداء طلبة الجامعة إلى ادراك التعابير التعبيرية التي تظهر في قصيدتي سليفيا بلاث “السيدة ليزرس” و “والدي” .وفرضية الباحث هي عدم قدرة الطلبة لأدراك التعابيرالتعبيرية الموجودة في القصيدتين الشعريتين للشاعرة سليفيا بلاث.مشكلة الدراسة هو عدم ادراك طلبة الجامعة للتعابير التعبيرية في قصيدتي سليفيا بلاث. اقتصرت الدراسة على طلبة المرحلة الرابعة/ قسم اللغة الإنكليزية/كلية التربية / جامعة سامراء للعام الدراسي 2020/2021,حيث اظهرت الدراسة اجراءات اختبار الإنجاز الذي يحتوي على سؤالين وخصصت (25) درجة لكل سؤال , اي الدرجة النهائية هي (50). اختبار العينة يشمل كل طلبة قسم اللغة الانكليزية , بينما العينة العشوائية هي (30) طالب وطالبة قد تم اختيارهم عشوائيا”. تحققت المصداقية بإجراء الاختبار لمرتين, وكلاهما اخذا الوقت نفسه وكانا تحت نفس الظروف وحصلا على النتائج نفسها. وتحقق الصدق الظاهري عند عرض الاختبار على لجنة المحكمين في قسم اللغة الإنكليزية/كلية التربية/ لجامعة سامراء , حيث وافقوا على اجراءات الدراسة . افترض الباحث ان طلبة المرحلة الرابعة في قسم اللغة الانكليزية/ كلية التربية/ جامعة سامراء غير قادرين على ادراك التعابير التعبيرية الموجودة في قصيدتي سليفيا بلاث “السيدة ليزرس” و “والدي” .وبتحقق هذه الفرضية يعني ذلك ان الفرضية صحيحة.
سيليفيا بلاث (1932-1963) كانت احد الشعراء التعبيريين الذين تميزوا عبر التعبير عن تجاربهم ومشاكلهم الشخصية مع عوائلهم. حاولت سليفيا ان تعكس الصورة الداخلية لمعاناتها مع الناس المحيطين بها ولاسيما الرجال وتحديدا” زوجها (تيد هيوز) . ولكي تعطي الصورة السريعة عن أسلوبها في الصيغة التعبيرية , تم اختيار اثنين من قصائدها لهذه الدراسة.
يعد الشعر التعبيري هو رد فعل لا أنساني وتحديدا” في القرن العشرين.
الكلمات المفتاحية: اكتشاف، إدراك والتعابير التعبيريةِ.
Since ancient times, poetry is regarded as a vehicle for objective statement in humanity. It avoids the personality and emotion of the writer. However, in the late of 1950s, Sylvia Plath was one of the greatest American poetess which their poets change the attitudes toward poetry when they succeed to write subjectively about their own lives. The confessional poets express about the true emotions in many subjects matter such as madness, adultery and suicide (Evan, 2000: 47).
Foucault (1978: 61-62) defines the confession as a ritual discourse that has a subject of the statement. It presents as a dialogue of a penitent that is focus on the confessional act, his thoughts, actions and desires are the subjects to be discussed. Anyone cannot confess without virtual presence and the authority which require the confession in order to judge, punish, or forgive. In confessional poem, a man may assign himself for the moment as he will limit the consideration of the confessional partner to the person who is addressed by the narrative voice in any given poem.
A confessional poet tries to present a private information about himself / herself such as illness, despondence and sexuality. Number of poets of the 1950s and 1960s have been called as “Confessional Poets”. They present fresh and different works at that time (Yezzi, 1998: 10).
The cutting edge life as it is modern, methods can be utilized to decimate the personality of human and the individuals’ suffering. So that what gives the sense of illusion to him and this suffering of men or women becomes as equal (Annas, 1988:134).
2.0 The confessional poetry
It is a new type of poetry which is appeared at the mid of twentieth century and exactly in the late of 1950s and ahead of schedule of 1960s. This style of composing verse is related with numerous artists, for example, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and W.D. Snodgrass. The confession booth verse manages topic that has not been straightforwardly talked about in American verse. The private encounters with feeling identified with death, misery and a self-portraying way. Specifically way, Sexton is keen on the mental part of verse. The confession booth artists of the 1950s and 1960s are spearheaded another kind of composing that changes the scene of American verse. They are not just chronicle their feelings on paper, yet their treatment of the artist’s self may have been stunned to certain pursuers. The artists keep up a significant level of craftsmanship through their cautious consideration for utilizing prosody, specialty and development are imperative to their works. The tradition of confessional poetry has greatly influenced on Ages of numerous essayists despite everything proceed right up ’til today (“A Brief Guide to Confessional Poetry”, 2007).
Confession booth verse the executives of personal history is recognized a sort from the New York School and from the verse all in all. It is the crudeness of its location to communicate the individual blame and its passionate impact. Numerous writers express about their lives in verse yet not in comparable way. In confession booth verse there are numerous subtleties can serve to deny all-inclusiveness by viewing the writer as a piece of particularly languishing. Utilizing “I” pronoun in the sonnet implies an immediate portrayal of the fragile living creature and blood of the writer. By the method of its identification of these extraordinary sins, the confession booth sonnet appears to picture an unfortunate self. Confessional words describe the inner feeling of the writer (Yezzi, 1998: 10).
Sylvia Plath herself has mentioned that her poems come out from the emotional experiences and she can’t identify with the calls of the heart that just show up with a needle or blade. She accepts that anybody ought to have the option to control their own encounters even in the most unnerving circumstances like torment and craziness. This sort of experience ought to have the option to be constrained by a keen psyche. Plath’s character devotes all her energies in maintaining a ritualistic defense against her situation. Plath has a strange reflection of herself, she employs the strategies of the mind against an undefined terror (Wikipedia:114-115).
The Poem of ‘Daddy’
Daddy is one of Plath’s poems and it is the most important treatment of her father’s symbolism. It is the best one of her poems. In this poem, Sylvia admits that she is afraid of her father. This reference leads to set up the per user for the moral story that is to come. Plath portrays her note that the sonnet has been spoken by a young lady, it is about her dad’s demise…while she regards him like a god (Rosenblatt, 1979: 49).
Plath’s ideas are confounded by the way that her dad is a Nazi and her mom. This sonnet opens with a reference to her dad’s dark shoe and how his little girl has lived as a foot as she says:
You did not do, you did not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo (ibid).
Actually, Plath’s father is not a Nazi and even her mother is not Jewish. The authentic references made Plath dramatize her rebellion against her father’s oppression. Plath characterized her situation in what is called “nursery rhymes” and recalled her father as a “panzer-man” or “gobbled-goo”(ibid:50) .
In Daddy, Plath seeks to get a relive and she kills her dad’s memory. She does that by a figurative homicide, as she says:
Daddy, I have had to kill you
You died before I had time…
Marble – heavy, a bag full of God
Ghastly statue with one grey
Big as a frisco seal (ibid:51).
Plath has written many confessional poems to dramatize the war in her soul. This poem starts with the opening image that her father as an “old shoe” according to Freud’s writing (ibid).
This poem is full of darkness and there are many terrible things, so she says:
You stand at the black board, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead if your foot,
But no less a devil for that, no not,
And less the black man who,
Bit my pretty red heart in two
I was ten when they buried you at twenty I tried to die
And get black, back, back to you (ibid:52)
The sexual pull appears as the level of Plath’s suffering from her mental illness. Plath admits in the wake of neglecting to escape from her self-destruction attempt. She get married to Ted Hughes who is a black man for seven years. In this poem, metaphorically, she kills her father, her husband and all men. Daddy is regarded as a rejection poem and she turns back on the cutting edge world. Along these lines, her dismissal to the family and society prompts the dismissal of oneself (ibid: 53).
Plath’s suicide is anticipated with the symbolic annihilation. In the statement of human fascination with death, Plath feels with terror at death, therefore, she becomes a romance with it. Freud believes that the point of life is demise… while Plath’s life is verse and verse for her becomes passing (ibid:54 ).
In Daddy, Plath expresses about true feeling toward her father while there are many references that has been written to represent an extraordinary sentiment of scorn toward him. She makes reference to about her feelings of trepidation of her dad and how he treated his daughter. This poem explains the struggles in Plath’s life. So, she has many conflicts in her feeling. She is confessed her conflict feeling about men and death. By this way, she used a confessional poetry. Many of Plath’s poems has impacted by death of her dad and her separation from her better half. These struggles left Sylvia with a feeling of triviality toward men and one of them her father. In this sonnet, Plath mirrors her inward aggression because of the treatment she has been received (ibid).
The language of this poem starts to exclude babies’ speech for developing an exclusive vocabulary of venom. This method deals with the image of the father. In this poem, Plath produces the combination of colloquialisms with Latin language to present the aesthetic, formal and linguistic changes in order to give a new immediacy to her work (ibid).
Lady Lazarus is one of Plath’s late poem which is full of speakers. The speaker of this poem has a strange nature who struggles the ordinary ideas of suicide. Suicide is not a joyful act but she resists to do that again. Her confidence leads her to say that her breath will be vanish to be smiling woman (Annas,1988 : 169).
In ‘Lady Lazarus’ poem, Plath speaks with herself in hyperbole as calling herself a “walking miracle”, she boasts that suicide is an art. She mentions that suicide is a gladsome term to satire of her own demonstration. Plath uses her suicide to manage contrive of the Jews. Then she compares herself with martyred saint. Plath controls her own fate, Plath insists to destroy herself. The speaker sees an arrival to her psychological instability that has driven her to suicide for three times. ‘Lady Lazarus’ has been portrayed Plath’s attempts for suicide. It tells us just a few information of real events. The struggle between Jew and Nazi repeats also in ‘Lady Lazarus’. The two poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’ has been written by imagistic technique. The horror of the Nazi is concentrated on camps and on all persons (ibid).
This movement is historical and private in this poem. The tone of this poem is not accidental. Sylvia Plath pursues the image and the rhyme of ‘Lady Lazarus’. For instance, the rhyme of “Jew” and “gobbled goo” becomes as the piece of a similar procedure that she sees in a significant number of her sonnets (ibid:170).
Sylvia does not stop in her poetry to express about her wishes and needs for love. She is unable to give and receive love and she is considered to be dangerous for introducing the theme of love in her earliest verse. Arthur Oberg says that these two Sonnets like Daddy and Lady Lazarus may not be the triumphs for a celebration (ibid:171).
Instead, and this is my sense of them, they belong more to elegy and death to the woman whose “Loving association”, abandoned her as she sought to create images for them… (ibid).
Rosenblatt (1979) mentions that Plath at the end of her life reflects her recognition about the battle among self as well as other people and among death and birth that must be oversee each idyllic structure. The mystical and wicked parts of the world show up in an away from of ‘Woman Lazarus’ sonnet. Plath presents Lady Lazarus as an alternate individual for every one of her crowds. For example, Nazi Doktor is a Jew whose body should be singed for strict crowd, she is wonderful figure, even her hair and garments are important as holy person’s relics (ibid:173)
In this sonnet she goes to her crowds to portray her desires to self-destruction. She begins as a reluctant entertainer. The emblematic system of death and resurrection in ‘Woman Lazarus’ has been picked by the speaker. she establishes her demise for ordinarily to clean herself from blame and torments. She comes back to the belly like in her cavern, she hopes to get reawakened in another structure (ibid).
The endeavors of resurrection are small till the finish of this sonnet. The doctor will burn her down to be ash and by this way, she will achieve her rebirth, as she says in the following lines:
Out of ash
I rise with my real hair
And I eat men like air
Plath has utilized the phoenix fantasy as a premise of this sonnet. She envisions that a lady has an unadulterated soul when she is against others, for example, divine beings, specialist, men and Nazis (ibid:174).
‘Lady Lazarus’ characterizes the stylish standards of Plath’s late verse. This sonnet gets its belongings from the casual language which identifies with its significant perspective: its aural quality. ‘Woman Lazarus’ has been composed to be perused so anyone might hear so as to introduce the aural impact and the speaker’s voice with the explanatory force. Plath reports in her self-destruction endeavor with no perceptible feeling:( Sylvia Plath ,2007: 1).
I am only thirty
And like the cat I have nine times to die
This is number three
In the following second she turns into a barker by the method of a striptease show:
These are my hands
Plath practices this to reflect her desires To make a sound vehicle for her verse. So as to acquire its explanatory and sound impacts, she neglects the traditional form in her late poetry (ibid).
3.1 Finding out the Level of Students in Recognition to the Confessional Expressions in Sylvia Plath’s Two Poems ‘ Lady Lazarus ‘ and ‘daddy’ .
Mean scores and standard deviation have been estimated and the mean score is 27.50 and the standard deviation is 7.04 for the students’ level in recognizing the confessional expressions to Sylvia Plath’s Poems ‘Lady Lazarus ‘ and ‘daddy’. The theoretical mean is 25 , whereas the freedom degree is 29 as it is mentioned in table (1).
Finding out the Level of Students in Recognition to the Confessional Expressions in Sylivia Plath’s Two Poems ‘Lady Lazarus ‘ and ‘daddy’
|Level of Significance||Freedom Degree||T- Value||Theoretical Mean||Standard Deviation||Mean Score|
Clearly the determined t-esteem is not exactly the arranged one. and this means the students are unable to recognize the confessional expressions in Sylvia Plath’s two Poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘daddy’.This refers to a matter that the students’ level in recognition the confessional expressions is below average .
3.2 Finding out the Level of Male Students in Recognition to the Confessional Expressions in Sylvia Plath’s Two Poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’
The mean score is 27.33 and the standard deviation is 6.23 for the male students’ level in recognizing the confessional expressions to Sylvia Plath’s Poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’. The theoretical mean is 25 , whereas no significance of the level, as it is shown in table (2).
Finding out the Level of Male Students in Recognition to the Confessional Expressions in Sylvia Plath’s Two Poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’
|Level of Significance||T- Value||Theoretical Mean||Standard Deviation||Mean Score||Sex|
|No significance||2.04||1. 45||25||6.23||27.33||Male|
The calculated t-esteem is not exactly the arranged one which implies the male students are unable to recognize the confessional expressions in Sylvia Plath’s two Poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’. This refers that the level of male students’ in recognition the confessional expressions is below average .
3.3 Finding out the Level of Female Students in Recognition to the Confessional Expressions in Sylvia Plath’s Poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’
The mean score is 27.67 and the standard deviation is 7.99 for the female students’ level in recognizing the confessional expressions to Sylvia Plath’s two Poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’. The theoretical mean is 25 , whereas no significance of the level, as it is shown in table (3).
Finding out the Level of Female Students in Recognition to the Confessional Expressions in Sylvia Plath’s Poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’
|Level of Significance||T- Value||Theoretical Mean||Standard Deviation||Mean Score||Sex|
|No significance||2.04||1. 29||25||7.99||27.67||Female|
The calculated t-esteem is not exactly the arranged one which implies the female students are unable to recognize the confessional expressions in Sylvia Plath’s two Poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’ .This refers that the level of female students’ in recognizing the confessional expressions is below average .
3.4 The Comparison Between Male and Female Students in Recognizing to the Confessional Expressions in Sylvia Plath’s Two Poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’
The mean score is 27.67 and the standard deviation is 7.99 for the female students’ and the mean score is 27.33 and the standard deviation is 6.23 for the male students’ level in recognizing the confessional expressions to Sylvia Plath’s two Poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’. The theoretical mean is 25, whereas the significance level is at 0.05, as it is shown in table (4).
The Comparison Between Male and Female Students in Recognizing to the Confessional Expressions
in Sylvia Plath’s Poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’
|Level of Significance||T- Value||Theoretical Mean||Standard Deviation||Mean Score||Sex|
The calculated t-esteem is not exactly the arranged one which implies the female and male students are unable to recognize the confessional expressions in Sylvia Plath’s two Poems ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’. This refers that the level of male and female students’ in recognizing the confessional expressions is below average .
Mean Scores of Degrees for Each Item and the Percentage for the two Questions of a Test
Note: Each item has allotted (5Marks).
Q1/ Mention about the confessional expressions that presented in the following sentences from Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘Daddy’ .(25 Marks)
1-Daddy , I have had to kill you.
You did before I had time.
2-I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe , your gobbledygoo .
3-Every woman adores a fascist.
The boot in the face , the brute.
4-Bit my pretty red heart inn two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die.
5-If I’ve killed one man , I’ve killed two
The vampire who said he was you.
Q2/ Choose the correct answer from the following options according to Sylivia Plath’s poem ‘Lady Lazarus’. (25 Marks)
1-My face a ………………., fine Jew linen.
a-colorless b-odorless c-featureless c tasteless
2-The……………… breath will vanish in a day.
a- shy b-tired c-sour d-relaxed
3-I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have ……………… times to die.
a-nine b-four c-two d-three
4-These are my hands
I may be …………………and bone.
a-finger nail b- skin c-mouth d-nose
5-Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I …………………. men like air.
a-eat b-wash c-drink d-rise
1 -“A Brief Guide to Confessional Poetry”, Retrieved 28/4/2007.
2 -Annas, Pamela (1988). A Disturbance in Mirrors: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath. New York: Green Wood Press.
3 -Evan, Sarah L. (2000). Anne Sexton and The Confessional Poetry Movement. Henderson State University.
4 -Foucault, Michel (1978) The History of Sexuality. New York: Vintage Books, Vol. 1. -Patricia. M. (2002) Sylvia Plath: The Feminist Poetess. New York: Norton.
5 -Rosenblath, Jon. (1979) Sylvia Plath: The Poetry of Initiation. University of north Caroline Press, Chapel Hill.
6 -Sarah L. Evan (2000). Anne Sexton and The Confessional Poetry. (Henderson state university,
7 -“Sylvia Plath” Retrieved 17/5/2007.
8 -Uroff, M.D. (1977) Sylvia Plath and Confessional Poetry. A Reconsideration. Vol. 8, Iowa Review.
9 -“Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia” Retrieved 4/4/2007.
10 -Yezzi, David (1998) Confessional Poetry and The Artifice of Honesty. In The New Criterian. Vol. 16.