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.

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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...

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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.

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What is "Lady Lazarus" by Sylvia Plath about?

This poem has a theme of resurrection, of rising from the dead, and of the spectacle that such an occurrence is in one's life and the life of those who witness such an event.  Whether this "resurrection" is literal or figurative, Plath discusses how she the character in the poem has done it 3 times in her life, and how she manages to do it every decade (she mentions that she is "only thirty" in her poem).  She writes the poem as a sort of female Lazarus (Lazarus was a man who Christ raised from the dead in the Bible), and in the poem describes the physical, very real ugliness of the corpse coming back to life.  She mentions "worms," "eyepits," and "sour breath" as part of the dead body, and mentions a rather circus-like atmosphere as people come to gawk and gaze at the creepy and surreal phenomenon.

She also has a theme of potential female anger against male domination; she describes Germanesque dominating males who want to profit from her, but that she will not let them. She will disappear, leaving only "a cake of soap, a wedding ring, a gold filling" so that they cannot manipulate her and use her for their ends. In all, it is a poem of female empowerment, and also of a unique spectacle that people take a rather morbid curiosity in.  Given her attempted suicides in her lifetime, these thoughts could be autobiographical, or could simply be a unique way to express sentiments about life, death, males and females.

Enotes also has some really great commentary and discussion of the poem; I included a link below. I hope that these thoughts help a bit to get you started on the poem's meaning. Good luck!

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