38 Most Important Brief Questions of Sylvia Plath

38 Most Important Brief Questions of Sylvia Plath

Q.1. How does the mother-speaker address her child at the beginning of the poem, “Morning Song”?

Ans. The mother speaker directly addresses her recently-born baby: “Love set you going…….”

Q.2. What does the phrase “a fat gold watch” refer to?

Ans. The phrase “a fat gold watch” represents the newborn baby. To compare a baby to “a fat gold watch” is surreal. The simile suggests that there is a great distance between the act of love and the fact of the baby.

Q.3. Why did the midwife slap the newborn’s foot soles?

Ans. The midwife slapped the newborn’s foot-soles in order to provide it with a gateway into life.

Q.4. How can a newborn baby cast a shadow upon the security of the adults?

Ans. The newborn baby’s metaphorical nakedness or vulnerability puts into the shade or casts a gloom over the grown-up’s false sense of security.

Q.5. What comic picture of the mother do you find in the poem, “Morning Song”?

Ans. The comic picture of the mother may be seen when she, on hearing her baby’s cry, stumbles from her bed in the dark of the night to attend it, wearing her ridiculous Victorian nightgown with floral motifs.

Q.6. What does “cow-heavy” refer to?

Ans. “Cow-heavy” means the shapelessness or bulky body of the mother.

Q.7. What figure of speech do you find in the line “The clear vowels rise like balloons” and what does it signify?

Ans. This is an example of a simile.

Q.8. How many people make the journey in this poem?

Ans. “Two black, cut-paper people” as indicated in the first line of the poem, “Crossing the Water” make a boat journey across a river in the underworld.

Q.9. What do you mean by “cut-paper people”?

Ans. “Cut-paper people” refers to the two travelers who lack physical existence i.e. their spiritual essences or souls are making the journey in the underworld.

Q.10. What is the implied meaning of “Cold worlds shake from the Oar”?

Ans. Without caring for the “dark advice” of the flowers, the travelers on the boat move inexorably on and they feel that they are moving beyond the world.

Q.11. What does the “pale hand” signify?

Ans. Pale hand in the poem, “Crossing the Water” signifies the hand of a corpse, and thus the passengers are reminded that they are in the world of the Dead.

Q.12. What suggests the finality in the poem, “Crossing the Water”?

Ans. The silence “of the astounded souls” at the end of the poem expresses finality: The journey is over.

Q.13. What do “expressionless sirens” signify?

Ans. Siren refers to loud warning noise but here “expressionless sirens” signifies stillness that surprises the souls in the underworld.

Q.14. Give the meaning of “the silence of astounded souls”.

Ans. The quoted expression refers to the stillness and surprise that absorb the souls in Hades the world of the Dead.

Q.15. How do the title and the one-word first line (Axes) relate themselves (or, link two ideas)?

Ans. The juxtaposition of the title “Words” and the one-word first line (Axes) links two ideas. Words set to paper ring out as an axe rings out (makes noises) when it is set to wood.

Q.16. Why does Sylvia Plath use horse imagery in the poem, “Words”?

Ans. Plath here uses horse imagery to signify creative energy.

Q.17. What does the first stanza of “Words” suggest?

Or, what is the underlying idea of the first stanza in the poem “Words”?

Ans. The first stanza of “Words” suggests that the act of writing is strenuous like chopping down a tree.

Q.18. In what way is a creative artist (poet) compared to water trying to dominate the rock?

Or, Give the underlying meaning of the expression, “like the water striving to re-establish its mirror over the rock”.

Ans. Like water trying to dominate the rock on its way, the poet has to struggle to establish her mastery over words.

Q.19. Why does Sylvia Plath surrender to the “fixed stars” of death?

Ans. At the end of “Words” Sylvia Plath has surrendered to the “fixed stars” of death that pervaded her life and work because she believes that while she dies, her words will live on.

Q.20. What is the meaning of “fixed stars”?

Ans. “Fixed stars” refers to destiny or divinity that controls human life.

Q21. What does “the bottom of the pool” signify?

Ans. The kingdom of death.

Q.22. What is the theme of the poem “The Rival”?

Ans. “The Rival” by Sylvia Plath deals with the theme of rivalry, conflict, and animosity between husband and wife.

Q.23. In what sense does the husband resemble the moon?

Ans. The speaker wife in the poem “The Rival” compares her husband to the moon which is cold and barren. He resembles the moon in the sense that he like the moon outwardly appears smiling (generous, amiable,) but inwardly very

cold and barren (false and indifferent) as the moon is with its borrowed light.

Q.24. Who are great light borrowers?

Ans. The moon in the sky and the husband, according to the speaker (wife) are great light borrowers.

Q.25. What is the life pattern of the husband?

Ans. According to the speaker (wife), her husband is living in a world of luxuries and enjoyment. He is malicious towards others and does not even care to die in putting questions that are not answerable. That is, his complaints are baseless.

Q.26. Why is the moon ridiculous during day time?

Ans. Being invisible during the daytime, the moon is an object of ridicule to the people of the world.

Q.27. How does the husband become a ridiculous figure like the moon?

Ans. According to the speaker (wife), her husband resembles the moon in the sense that as the moon he abuses her with his borrowed light (artificial love) but becomes a ridiculous figure when exposed to light just as the moon with its borrowed light mocks mankind night but becomes ridiculous in the day time because of its invisibility.

Q.28. How does the poet produce in “The Rival” an effect of cold furious animosity between the husband and the wife?

Ans. In the poem “The Rival”, metaphor, subject, and tone are combined together by the poet to produce an effect of cold, furious animosity between the husband and the wife.

Q.29. When was the poem “Morning Song” written?

Ans. In1961, after Sylvia Plath had given birth to her first child Frieda Rebecca Hughes.

Q.30. Who is addressed by Sylvia Plath in the poem “The Rival”?

Ans. Her husband.

Q.31. How does Sylvia Plath make a comparison between a child and a cat?

Ans. A child is compared to a cat in the sense that it sucks the mother’s nipple or swallows its milk in a manner as a cat does.

Q.32. What is the poem “Crossing the Water” about?

Ans. The poem is about a mystical journey of the soul in the underworld.

Q.33. What is the central image of the poem, “The Rival”?

Ans. The moon is the central image in the poem, “The Rival”. The speaker (wife) compares her husband several times to the moon to expose his characteristics to the readers.

Q.34. What does the title “Crossing the Water” signify?

Ans. The title “Crossing the Water” represents a mystical journey of the soul in the underworld.

Q.35. What is the poem ‘Words’ about?

Ans. About the act of writing.

Q.36. What does ‘New Statue’ refer to in the poem ‘Morning Song”?

Ans. The newborn child is compared to a statue exposed to the elements. That is, the child becomes, for the present, the center of the family’s world.

Q.37. Whose rivalry do you find in the poem ‘The Rival’?

Ans. The rivalry between husband and wife.

Q.38. How does a mother resemble a cloud?

Ans. In giving birth to a child a mother resembles a cloud, which is quickly formed and unformed, a phenomenon that distills (through a process of vaporization and subsequent condensation) itself to a “mirror” (river, lakes) in which is reflected its own slow change under the influence of the wind.

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