The significance of mouth imagery in the poetry of Sylvia Plath

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Moore, Jayme E.
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of English
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The purpose of this thesis was to examine the mouth imagery (images of eating, tasting, swallowing, and devouring) in the poetry of Sylvia Plath in terms of its meaning of Plath's art. An examination of Plath's Collected Poems reveals that both the prevalence and specific nature of the mouth imagery make it a significant part of her poetic vision. The mouth imagery differs from the other threatening imagery in Plath's poems because, unlike the threat of death presented by the moon or sea, the mouth imagery describes a threat humans cannot detach themselves from; they must contribute to the "gross eating game." Because existence depends upon consuming food, and new life builds upon decay, the threat represented by the mouth imagery is hoplesslessly recognized as necessary by its victims in Plath's poems. The mouth imagery expresses the paradox in the interdependence of life and death through metaphors which convey a sense of threat as well as necessity.