Why did Sylvia Plath write the poem of "Lady Lazarus"?  

Plath's "Lady Lazarus" says what many suicidal poets say when they attempt to make sense of their suffering: I am the phoenix, a creature whose very nature is regeneration. I will rise again and again. In "Lady Lazarus," Sylvia Plath uses poetic devices like metaphor, imagery, personification, allusion, simile and a number of other literary tools to explain how she is like a phoenix who has been through fire and risen from it again and again. She also includes references to biblical characters such as Job and Lazarus in order to emphasize her point that she has been through so much pain but has still come out victorious.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Why does anyone write anything?  To speculate is to diminish the art.  The New Critics would not like this question...

Poetry is confession, catharsis , therapy, a way of making sense of the world, a chance to have one's words immortalized, and puzzle-making: putting the perfect words in the perfect...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Why does anyone write anything?  To speculate is to diminish the art.  The New Critics would not like this question...

Poetry is confession, catharsis, therapy, a way of making sense of the world, a chance to have one's words immortalized, and puzzle-making: putting the perfect words in the perfect order.  Namely, the poem is her most mature attempt to make sense of her mental illness (which lead to previous unsuccessful suicide attempts), her family (father and mother), her ex-husband, and the cruelty, dehumanization, and absurdity of the modern world.

Plath attempts to be absurdist and confessional poet in "Lady Lazarus," her magnum opus along with "Daddy."  Anne Stevenson lauds the paradoxical complexity of Plath's poetry, saying it "is all of a piece":

Its moments of tenderness work upon the heart as surely as its moments of terror and harsh resentment. And despite her exaggerated tone and the extreme violence of some of her energy, Plath did, courageously, open a door to reality.

Stevenson goes on to praise Plath's "Lady Lazarus" persona "with its agressive assertion of regeneration, rejoice[ing] in so much verbal energy that the justice or injustice of the poet's accusations cease to matter."

The poem does not condone suicide.  Rather, it rises above it, if only for a moment.  Her poetry works best in barrage: imagery against men, materialism, sexism, self, suffering, and tradition.  Regardless of the poet, the poem, like all good art, affirms and breathes life.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team