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Ariel is the title poem in the collection Ariel that Plath published in the year before she finally

committed a successful suicide.

"Ariel" is a poem written by the American poet Sylvia Plath. It was written on October 12, 1962, shortly before her death, and published posthumously in the collection Ariel in 1965, of which it is the namesake.[1] Despite its ambiguity, it is literally understood to describe an early morning horse-ride towards the rising sun. Scholars and literary critics have applied various methods of interpretation to "Ariel".

"Ariel" is composed of ten three-line stanzas with an additional single line at the end, and follows an unusual slanted rhyme scheme. Literary commentator William V. Davis notes a change in tone and break of the slanted rhyme scheme in the sixth stanza which marks a shift in the theme of the poem, from being literally about a horse ride, to more of a metaphoric experience of oneness with the horse and the act of riding itself.

"Ariel" depicts a woman riding her horse in the countryside, at the very break of dawn. It details the ecstasy and personal transformation that occurs through the experience. The poem begins with complete immobility in the darkness, while the rider waits on the horse. There is then a change the intangible blue of hills and distances come into being. The rider is "God's lioness;" she experiences the sensation of becoming one with her horse in a powerful entangling of knees and heels. The plowed field on which she rides soon splits and vanishes behind her, remaining elusive like the brown neck of her steed that she "cannot catch." As she rides, the narrator observes black berries "cast[ing] dark hooks," and a profusion of shadows. There is "something else" that forcefully pulls her through the air as she rides, its strength described as thighs, hair, and her heels, which flake from the force of the ride. She compares herself to Lady Godiva, who rode naked upon her horse. In the midst of the ride, she can slough off things of no consequence "dead hands, dead stringencies." She views herself as the foam on wheat, as a sparkling of light on the ocean. She discerns a child's cry through a wall, but ignores it. The rider is now a potent arrow, as well as dew that "flies suicidal." She has been subsumed into both the horse and the ride as she propels herself forward into the rising sun, which is depicted as a powerful red Eye.


"Ariel"'s short length and seeming simplicity a woman rides her horse through the countryside at dawn is belied by the incredible amount of critical attention and praise that the poem has received since its publication in 1965. It is considered one of Plath's most accomplished and enigmatic poems, for it explores far more than a simple daybreak ride. It must be noted that this poem provides the title for her collection Ariel, selected after she rejected the title "Daddy." The poem justifies its centrality through a use of dazzling imagery, vivid emotional resonance, historical and biblical allusions, and a breathtaking sense of movement. Critics tend to discuss the poem as explorations of several different subjects, including: poetic creativity; sexuality; Judaism; animism; suicide and death; self-realization and self-transformation; and mysticism. To begin with, the name Ariel refers to three different things: Sylvia Plath's own horse, which she loved to ride; the androgynous sprite from Shakespeare's play The Tempest; and Jerusalem, which was also called Ariel in the Old Testament. Critics who discuss Shakespeare's Ariel tend to read Plath's poem as an exploration of poetic creativity and process. Shakespeare's Ariel embodies this power, and Plath may be attempting to fashion a metaphor for the process of writing a poem. The poet begins in darkness, but is then hauled along by the inspiration of poetic language. The poem begins in passivity, but moves into one of control and power. The critic Susan van Dyne notes how the poet's self-transformation is manifest in her use of complete sentences, which begins midway through the poem. She becomes both male and female, horse and rider, poet and creative force, arrow and target. She is not merely a captive of the creative drive, but its agent. In regards to the biblical allusion of Jerusalem, it is no doubt a product of Plath's fascination nay, obsession with Judaism and the Jews. "Ariel" translates to "lion of God" from Hebrew, and Plath refers to herself as "God's lioness" in line 4. Critics have observed a recurrent motif in Plath's poetry wherein she associates horses with religious ecstasy. Riding seemed to be a way to achieve this transcendence. William V. Davis sees Plath as wanting to communicate this private, ecstatic, and nearly-unknowable experience to the reader. He considers the rhyming scheme of the last line "Eye, the cauldron of morning" and sees it as tying together the personal activity of riding a horse, the communal connotations of the Hebrew race and its suffering, and the cauldron, which is a way to "[mix] all of the foregoing elements together into a kind of melting pot of emotion, history, and personal involvement." She does not mean to declare herself an inhabitant of Jerusalem, but as one connected to it through greater, transcendental forces. The allusion to Lady Godiva is an important one, as it suggests issues of the feminine and the masculine. In the 11th century Anglo-Saxon legend, Lady Godiva was the wife of an English lord who rode naked through the streets in order to gain a remission from the heavy tax he had placed upon his tenants. She had been frustrated with his stubbornness and greed in the taxation matter, and continued to demand that her husband ease the burden. He finally agreed to do so if she would strip naked and ride her horse through the town. The townspeople agreed to refrain from looking at her; only one man, "Peeping Tom," did not keep his promise. Quite obviously, Plath wishes to connect her ride through darkness to that of Lady Godiva. The connection can be understood in terms of the privacy she enjoys on her ride, or as suggestion that she rides for a greater cause than simply her own pleasure. The allusion also resonates because of the prevailing fascination western culture has with the forbidden figure of the female nude and the problems of spectacle; Plath uses this image to take control of her self-display, and does not mention any

male gaze at all. She embraces her ride and all of its evocations of power, including sexual power, and is able to ignore even a child's cry that "melts in the wall." On this ride, she can firmly declare her feminine independence away from stifling patriarchal forces. The poem is indeed full of sexual imagery. Some examples include: lines 5 and 6 ("How one we grow,/Pivot of heels and knees!"); line 17 ("thighs, hair"); and the imagery of the phallic arrow. All of these lend credence to the claim that "Ariel" is an erotic poem. Plath is clearly the female rider, but she identifies with the horse's masculinity. Further, when she ignores the child's cry, she is refusing to accept the traditionally female role of mother and care-giver. Shakespeare's Ariel is an androgynous figure, and Plath's "Ariel" might also be statement about how a female poet, when possessed by the poetic creative fury, is not a female anymore the genius transcends gender. The transcendence is not a violent one, and is not aimed at destroying men, however. Instead, it lies entirely outside of gender. Finally, in critic Marjorie Perloff's discussion of animism and angst, she claims Plath's poetry as representative of the ecstatic, oracular poetic type, which centered upon self, thereby eschewing any sort of narrative objectivity. Plath identifies with the animal kingdom to express herself, depicting humans as lifeless and cold, and animals as vibrant and alive. She wishes to lose her human identity and commit to the instinct of animal, which rids her of any objectivity or judgment. In "Ariel," she is "God's lioness" as she becomes one with her force in a vivid trance. Perloff comments that "at its most intense, life becomes death but it is a death that is desired: the 'Suicidal' leap into the 'red / Eye' of the morning sun is not only violent but ecstatic." Animism is a way to demonstrate how one is taken out of one's quotidian life and one's self to achieve a state of transcendence and communion. If one is so inclined, one can even connect this interpretation to the feminist and creative interpretations to suggest that Plath's ultimate goal was to relate ecstatic frenzy - how we identify and understand the frenzy ultimately reveals our own personality and interest.

Ariel : Sylvia Plath - Summary and Critical Analysis Ariel is the title poem in the collection Ariel that Plath published in the year before she finally committed a successful suicide. The collection was about her obsessive concern with death/suicide. But in many of the poems she also incorporated many other themes like: feminist protest (which she usually extends to the humanitarian protest against the Nazi atrocity), identity crisis, psychological trauma and nervous breakdown, childhood memories, and so on. She also usually mythicizes most of the poems by using a concrete level of classical mythical allusions; but she usually uses the myths to negate or at least to adapt in very personal and original ways.

Ariel was the name of the horse that Plath used to ride as a girl. The occasion of this poem is that of one traumatic experience of her attempt of ride it early one morning. The poem narrates the event in which the horse ran at a break-neck, dizzy speed before Plath was able to properly ride it! But this literal level of the poem matters little in our final interpretation of it. Plath uses the very name Ariel with multiple connotations. The name comes from Shakespeares drama The Tempest in which Ariel is a sexless spirit that serves the (colonizer) king Prospero. Always seeking liberation; here Ariel becomes the very symbol of liberty much more rebellious than the loyal spirit in Shakespeare. The world Ariel is used to denote the city of Jerusalem in the Bible a city both cursed and sanctified as the chosen land by God; Plath doesnt seem to evoke the meaning in the poem, though some cri tics have insisted bringing in the suggestion of salvation too. In short this horse can be taken as symbolizing the rebellious spirit that the female speaker of the poem aspires to be; it symbolizes the transcendence she achieves after the traumatic experience she equates with a suicidal attempt, life, and the experience of growing up. Allegorically it is a movement for darkness to light or morning; from stasis to activity; from void to meaning or understanding; from indirection to direction; from anxiety to confidence of identity; from confusion or unconsciousness to consciousness and control over the vehicle (life, experience, trouble). The poem can also be seen as moving from childhood ignorance to the orgasmic awakening of adolescence; we can also sense certain suggestions about the feminist awakening brought about by the forced dragging of the horse. The poem begins with a faintly recognizable narration of the incident of riding the horse; we get the impressions that the rider has probably gone to the horse stable and while just trying to ride, the horse scampers with the girl clinging on to its neck. But in the reeling speed and in the darkness of the dawn, she can have no feeling. It is all stasis; there is no sense of movement. And there is no mov ement either. Nest follows a substanceless pouring of sights of blue hills in the dawn. She becomes gradually aware of the distance being traversed. In the second stanza, the speaker identifies herself with lady Godiva, a rebellious Irish woman, who rode naked through the streets in protest of her husbands too high tax on the people. The difficulty with this poem lies in separating one element from another and yet that is also its theme; the rider is one with the horse, the horse is one with the furrowed earth, and the dew on the furrow is one with the rider. The movement of the imagery, like that of perceptions, is circular. This speed is the escape from everyday life. The speed takes her away from pain of existence to higher, existence. She becomes the portion of universal energy. So it is a kind of movement of the poem from non-existence to existence. That is the important thing of the poem. The darkness of existence is left behind. In this way the poet creates images of limitless speed. Gods lioness is like Blakes Tyger, angry and full of rebellious strength. The speed is so fast that the poet becomes a part of the horse. The rider and the ridden have become one. Gods lioness is showing the anger and the strength of the God, his energy and his anger. The horse is going so fast that she is unable to catch the horses neck. The horse has to pass through the berries, which are like hooks that stop the horse. Theres connotation of blood black red berries. The stop is only for a short time. The berries try to hold her back but shes pulled forcibly buy the energy of speed. Godiva according to Irish mythology is a naked lady who rode through the streets of Conventry in order to persuade her husband, the local lord to lower the taxes. She protested against her husband. The poet becomes Godiva as she throws away all her existence and flies away. She becomes united with nature no longer the human. She passes through wheat field. She becomes the part of the nature. She passes through the wheat field she has now become a part of the nature. The wheat field seems like glittering ocean. The childs cry is the most important song. Arrow stands for movement, whereas dew stands for bright symbol of impermanence

or transitoriness. She becomes just a red mist. She falls in to a vast cauldron of morning. It renewing her life: that is regeneration passing from non- existence to existence. Shes free to live in higher level of existence. There is transformation through motion. The suicide is not annihilation but transcendence. Ariel is the representation of a person caught in the world which denies her humanity by defining her sexuality. As a female, she has no substantial freedom or self- definition. The poem studies the resulting state of mind: we experience how she feels. Descriptions of scenery, for example, tell us not so much how the world looks, as how the world symbolizes her feelings. Not surprisingly, images concerned with the body secure throughout Ariel. Ariel gives us the world in which destructive feelings and pain are grounded in real causes. As the poem develops, the treatment of these themes became explicit, and is rooted in womens place in a mans hostile world. The biological prison, the preoccupation with physical pain and deadness are intimate consequences of a prominently social ordeal. Inexorably trapped, the persona sharpens finds an escape. Her defensive passivity, her search for dissolution into primordial sea and air, lead her forward to a single answer, a single way out. To treat Ariel as a confessional poem is to suggest that its actual importance lies in the horse- ride taken by its author, in the authors psychological problems, or in its position within the bibliographical development of the author. None of these issues is as significant as the imagistic and thematic development rendered by the poem itself. Ariel is probably Plaths finest single construction because of the precision and depth of its images. In its account of the ritual journey toward the centre of life and death, Plath prefects her methods of leaping from image to image in order to represent mental process. The sensuousness of the poem- the Black, sweet blood mouthfuls of the berries; the glitter of seas - is unmatched in contemporary American poetry. We see, hear, touch and taste the process of disintegration: the horse emerging from the darkness of the morning, the sun beginning to rise as the horse, Ariel, rushes uncontrollably across the countryside, the rider trying to catch the brown neck but instead tasting the blackberries on the side of the road. Then all the riders perceptions are thrown together: the horses body and the riders merge. She hears her own cry as if it were that of a child and flies towards the burning such that has now risen.