Skip to content

Sylvia Plath Mad Girls Love Song Analysis Essays

Love’s Hate In Sylvia Plath’s Mad Girl’s Love Song And Hate Poem By Julie Sheehan

William Congreve, a play writer wrote, “Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned, Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorned” (459 Congreve). The feeling of betrayal and enraged love as described in Congreve’s mighty words, is cohesive between both Sylvia Plath’s, “Mad Girl’s Love Song”, and, “Hate Poem” by Julie Sheehan. Similarities that coexist between the two poems are: theme, imagery, and repetition. Love can be beautiful and bright, it can also be dark and depressing, as exemplified in both Plath’s and Sheehan’s writing.
Love that is filled with hatred and other powerful mixed emotion coincides in the theme of both Sylvia Plath’s, “Mad Girl’s Love Song”, and, “Hate Poem” by Julie Sheehan. Plath’s title a “Mad Girl’s Love Song” hints that the work is about an angry adolescent girl who is heartbroken. The title’s message entails feelings enraged with vengeance, remorse, and, hatred after a heart retching break up. As the poem story unfolds, a woman’s immense pain surfaces. The subject of the poem expresses a specific event, “I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. / I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed/ And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane” (Plath). The first line of the quote builds towards the impending outcome that would forever change her personal outlook of life, “I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed”; the loss of virginity. Regardless woman or man, an individual’s virginity is a precious and valuable aspect of human life. From this passage, the reader can assume that Plath was tricked, as clued by the word “bewitched”, in giving her innocence to an undeserving man. Feeling broken and unfaithful she wishes, “I should have loved a thunderbird instead; / At least when the
spring comes they roar back again” (Plath). Plath is claiming to that she would have better off loving a material object, because at least that would not betray or abandon her much like her lover did. Comparatively the title “Hate Poem” is much like “Mad Girl’s Love Song”. They both allow the reader make some immediate judgments about what the poem is about. “Hate Poem’s” theme is the feeling of intense bitterness or disgust towards someone else. The poem begins by stating “I hate you truly. Truly I do. / Everything about me hates everything about you” (Sheehan). Sheenhan is declares a feeling of hatred, towards a specific person as indicated by the word “you”. She expands on how deeply her loathing is, “I dissect you cell by cell, so that I might hate each one individually and at leisure. / My lungs, duplicitous twins, expand with the utter validity of my hate, which can never/have enough of you”. EXPAND MORE!
*Add quote from book to state what imagery creates for a poem*Plath writes “God topples from the sky, hell’s fire fade: / Exit seraphim and enter Satan’s men: / I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead” (Plath). Using distinctive biblical allusions that creates an imager of faith leaving her, and an incubus filling her...

Loading: Checking Spelling

0%

Read more

The Opposing Themes of Love and Hate in the Play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

1709 words - 7 pages The Opposing Themes of Love and Hate in the Play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare Throughout the play Romeo and Juliet there are two very strong emotions which threaten their relationship. These two emotions are love and hate. The love that Romeo and Juliet have is threatened by there families full of hate (Capulet and Montague). These two emotions interweave throughout the whole play. In Act 2 Scene 2 Juliet...

Love and Hate Depicted in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice

1043 words - 4 pages Love and Hate Depicted in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice The Merchant of Venice is a play both about love and hate. Shakespeare illustrates the theme of hate most prominently through the prejudices of both Christians and Jews and their behaviour towards one another. The theme of love is shown amongst the Christians, in the love of friendship and marital love. The themes are emphasised in the settings of the play, Belmont symbolising love...

Romeo and Julliet Love and Hate

1238 words - 5 pages Romeo and JulietShakespeare's plays are only about love or hate. Discuss this statement referring to AT LEAST ONE of Shakespeare's plays. "Shakespeare writes about love and hate as if they are friends and not polar opposites. Love is a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or...

Romeo and Juliet: Love and Hate

1566 words - 6 pages Romeo & Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s most recognised tragic plays. As we all know, the two main characters Romeo and Juliet perish at the end, but what makes this play so dramatic? To explore the dramatic devices of this timeless classic, one must focus on the heart of this play which is undoubtedly Act 3 Scene 1 and In this essay I will explain why Act 3 Scene 1 is a very important scene in Romeo & Juliet; showing how it starts with bawdy...

Love and Hate. Are they so opposite?

897 words - 4 pages We are all too familiar with the similarities between the supposed opposites, good and bad, but very few stop to examine the thin line existing between love and hate. "The truth is simple: only LOVE can conquer HATE, not some attempt to fight fire with fire or stand in a corner and wait for a promised heaven if we're good little boy and girls and eat our vegetables" (Campion). My favorite book is

Telling The Truth About Love And Hate

829 words - 3 pages Telling the Truth About Love and Hate The Scarlet Letter is a story of many ideas and concepts. Written by

Friendship - A Bond of Love and Hate

1392 words - 6 pages Friendship - A Bond of Love and Hate Sarah and I had a fight about two weeks ago. We hadn’t fought in a while so we were due for a battle. Sarah complained that a girl at my party was “talking about her,” and, obviously, if I was a real friend, I should have kicked her out. Funny thing is I wouldn’t have kicked the girl out even if I had known that she was talking about Sarah. This, in turn, caused Sarah to tell that she hated me and never...

A Thin Line between Love and Hate

1016 words - 4 pages Love is not usually well defined. People often think that they are in love, but they can�t explain it. There is a great dealing of confusion of the words love, and infatuation. Love may include romance, infatuation, affection and tenderness. But it could be love if one or more of the elements are not present. The definition of love varies from person to person. Love is essential element for all relationships. Much of what is...

Hamlet and Gertrude, love or hate

941 words - 4 pages Imagine it, while away at college you receive word that your beloved father who had seemed in good health only a short while ago has died leaving your mother and yourself. This situation would be enough to bring great depression to even the strongest of souls but for Hamlet, the fictional prince of Denmark in Shakespeare's play of the same name, this is not his imagination but...

"10 Things I Hate About You", directed by Gil Junger- Analysis of the song "Bad Reputation" in the movie and its link with Taming of the Shrew

745 words - 3 pages The idea of an individual disregarding their own reputation is shown in the song 'Bad Reputation' written by Joan Jett. The individual demonstrates this concept by being untroubled by the thoughts and opinions of others, not doing things just to please others and being rebellious. This idea also runs through the play "Taming of The Shrew", written by William Shakespeare...

"Romeo and Juliet" - How love and hate is displayed.

2380 words - 10 pages 'Romeo and Juliet' is billed as one of the greatest love stories of all time. It is filled with romance from start to finish and almost every character has an object of desire at some point during the play. Could this great emotion be connected to the darker feeling of hate? Almost certainly. And is it possible for a character to feel both of these at exactly...

MAD GIRL’S LOVE SONG  by Sylvia Plath

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;

I lift my lids and all is born again.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,

And arbitrary blackness gallops in:

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed

And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:

Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,

But I grow old and I forget your name.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;

At least when spring comes they roar back again.

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

This Spring a friend of mine asked if I’d write comments on her blog about this early poem of Plath’s, as my friend Oriana knows I admire the musicality in most of Plath’s poems.

Click to see Oriana's blog on Plath's poem.

Instead of printing the poem from the blog, I went to The Collected Poems (compiled and edited by the late Plath’s husband, poet Ted Hughes, 1981) but could find it neither in the fifty pre-1956 poems Hughes titled “Juvenilia” (I prefer to use “early poems”) nor in the “complete list of poems composed before 1956.”  Odd.

After a little research, I learned that after The Collected Poems came out in England and America (Both editions were the same.), critics praised Plath’s work but many had questions about Hughes’ construction of the book.  In particular, The New York Times Book Review called attention to significant errors in the editing, most notably missing poems, including “Mad Girl’s Love Song” which had been published in Mademoiselle magazine in 1953.

The mystery slightly solved (no word why it was absent), I found a copy online and looked at the poem.

“Mad Girl’s Love Song” is a villanelle.  A perfect villanelle.  The structure is flawless but the musicality is not as strong (though some alliteration and a modest amount of assonance are present) as in other Plath poems.

But “Mad Girl’s Love Song” is an intriguing poem which can be read on many levels.  The themes of love, betrayal and loss (themes which recur and plagued her in her later life and writing) are present here.  What remains a question for interpretation is who, or what, the you is in Plath’s poem.

Knowing the poem was written in Plath’s college years, a reader might assume, after a first reading, that the poem is about a young woman’s desire for a lover, one who ignites her passion.  By the end of the poem, he abandons her.  But the words of the poem carry too much import to be simply that.

Or perhaps the you is a demon-lover: “I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed…”  The mention of God, hell, “seraphim and Satan’s men” and the connection of these to when she shuts her eyes and reality disappears could tie this to a demon-lover, except that God, etc., also disappear.  [I interpret the line “God topples from the sky, hell fires fade” as the concepts of the righteous/the good being rewarded and the bad punished also have disappeared.]  I’m not convinced about the demon-lover.

Another interpretation is the you  is Plath’s dead father (the subject of many of her later poems).  Robert Sully in his excellent online essay, “Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and the Work of Mourning” writes

The death of her father when she was eight years old seems to have left her with a deep psychic wound, a wound that manifested itself in both a profound sorrow and a deep resentment, as if her father had abandoned and betrayed her.

Sully makes a skillful argument for his theory about this poem.

Click here to read Robert Sully's essay.

In much of Plath’s early and pre-Ariel poetry, she employs a double voice, at once being straightforwardly subjective (in which her situations may be what they seem) but at the same time inferring, while hiding, a deeper self.  For me, there are two pieces of this deeper self which I believe can be the you of the poem.

While at college, Plath began in earnest to define herself as a writer and to want this literary life to be a career.  During her junior year at Smith College, she applied for a guest-editorship at Mademoiselle for the coming summer, a laborious, several-step contest which required the writing of a criticism and overview of an issue of the magazine before the first culling of applicants and several writing assignments before the final cut for twenty guest-editorship slots.  At the same time, several of Plath’s poems were published in Seventeen and Harper’s purchased three poems (two of them villanelles).  At the end of April, 1953, Sylvia Plath received word that she’d won a guest-editorship at Mademoiselle to live in New York City and work at the magazine for the month of June.

But the social conventions of the 1950s preached repressive constraints.  Young women could have either marriage and a family or a career but not both.  In a telling passage from Plath’s The Bell Jar (the novel, about this time in her life, which she finished writing in 1961), her college-aged heroine explains:

I also remember Buddy Willard saying in a sinister, knowing way that after I had children I would feel differently, I wouldn’t want to write poems any more.  So I began to think maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being brainwashed, and afterwards you went about numb as a slave in some private, totalitarian state.

Plath, like many young women in the ‘50s, saw marriage and family as irreconcilable with a career.

I believe this conflict between her desire for a literary career and the rigid gender roles of the times is a central issue of her poetry.  Also one might argue, given Plath’s self-identification as a writer and her highly professional attitude toward magazine publication during this period, that in “Mad Girl’s Love Song” what she dreams about, and for what she has an intense passion, is for her literary vocation (part of her deep self) but often during her junior year, she describes herself as “stupid” or a failure (especially when magazines reject her work) as if her literary skills have abandoned her or were imaginary in the first place.  This desertion is so shattering that it topples God and deadens the world around her.

That Plath saw herself as a failure, as inadequate, leads into the second piece of her deeper, often hidden, self: Plath as the mad girl herself.  As her junior year progressed, with its difficult course load, her application for a guest-editorship and the submissions of her stories and poems for possible publication, Plath descended into one of her worst depressions yet.  She wrote that she wanted to kill herself, felt she was drowning and sensed in her head a “numb, paralyzing cavern…a mimicking nothingness.”  This is the mad girl who says/writes that when [she] shuts [her] eyes…all the world drops dead…” and with it her perception of herself: “I think I made you up inside my head” where there is, according to her letters, solely a “paralyzing cavern [and]…nothingness.”

Sylvia Plath wrote “Mad Girl’s Love Song” sometime before her guest-editorship at Mademoiselle.  It was published in the magazine’s August issue, the same August as her breakdown and suicide attempt in 1953.

***                                                   ***                                                   ***