Plath women who did venture into the

was raised in an American society that was characterized by strict gender roles
which suppressed women’s interests, character and free will. Conformity was
common and women were convinced to covet the labels of “wife” and “mother” and
uncomplainingly find happiness in these roles. They were manipulated in ways to
believe that their ideal place was a home and that “no job is more exacting,
more necessary, or more rewarding than that of a housewife and mother”.1
Plath, however felt stifled by such stereotypes and did not want society to
mold her into a faceless entity that had lost her independence and
individualism to the concept of domesticity. This led Plath to adopt a very
negative view of the world as she felt tormented being born a woman and thus
being born with limited choices. She was aware that women who did venture into
the arts or to pursue an academic career found it very difficult to attain any
attention for their work which is why she strongly felt that the American
society was lacking freedom and had to establish the idea of liberating its
women from the oppressive atmosphere. She believed in a culture that supported
women and one that strongly opposed the traditional concept of a woman’s place
and her roles in life. For this reason, Plath used her poetry to strongly embed
her feminist attitudes and rejection of the 1950 patriarchy society.

In a
very confrontational and intense nature, the theme of patriarchy society is
best exemplified in the poems “Ariel”, “Lady Lazarus” and “Daddy”.
The three poems were published in Plath’s Ariel collection posthumously
in 1965 and use extensive metaphors, vivid imagery and emotional reverberations
to help her paint her state in a patriarchy society.

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                        Stasis in darkness

                        Then the substanceless blue

                        Pour of tor and distances

                        God’s lioness –Ariel, 1962

These first few lines of “Ariel” depict a woman riding a
horse at the break of dawn. It is believed that the character is a woman due to
the mentioning of “Lady Godiva”, an English noblewoman known for riding naked
on her horse, later on in the poem. The woman in the poem seems to be a persona
that Plath has taken on to describe herself. The condition of women in a
patriarchy is depicted through the image of the woman riding her horse in
complete darkness. The darkness symbolizes a woman’s captivity in a society
where she must conform to her roles as a wife, a mother and a caretaker. The
second line however, brings hope with the mentioning of “the substanceless blue”,
something that the dominating society could not take away from Plath. The light
through absolute darkness allows visibility for the woman in the poem enabling
her to see the path ahead. This could represent Plath as a woman in an
oppressive society choosing to form an independent identity and creating her
own path to self-fulfillment, thus suddenly feeling powerful like a “god’s