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Sylvia plath the arrival of the bee box essay

In the former the persona-beekeeper contemplates a box of dangerously noisy bees: There is only a little grid, no exit. I put my eye to the grid It is dark, dark, With the swarmy feeling of African hands Minute and shrunk for export, Black on black, angrily clambering. How can I let them out?

The bees now resemble exploited blacks in the Third World. Their mood is sustained by a series of link verbs, bound in a syntax written primarily in the active voice to suggest a much less helpless persona. As a kind of Pandora she toys with the notion of unleashing their violence on the world: It is like a Roman mob, Small, taken one by one, but my God, together!

I lay my ear to furious Latin. I am not a Caesar. I wonder if they would forget me If I just undid the locks and stood back and turned into a tree. There is the aburnum, its blond colonnades And the petticoats of the cherry They might ignore me immediately In my moon suit and funeral veil I am no source of honey So why should they turn on me? But she contemplates donning these disguises after she has released the bees.

The impulse to hide from forces beyond her control like those in "The Bee Meeting" exhibits in "The Arrival of the Bee Box" the "fingers in the ears" gesture of one who has every intention of unleashing violent aggression upon the world. From "'A Self to Recover': In the box imagery, with its rampant life, Plath begins to develop a familiar situation in her poetry: To open the box is to open the possibility of attack by its contents, a warning she seems anxious to ignore.

From Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. As if to demonstrate the unequivocal reality of the box, she says it is "Square as a chair and almost too heavy to lift. Further, the rhyming phrase, "square as a chair," gives aural substance to the box, and the word "square" suggests honesty, directness, and exactitude.

In three words, then, she has overturned the hallucinatory tone of the first poem. These self-conscious tropes preview the numerous metaphors and similes that this poem will hazard. Even when she claims to leave off making metaphors, she slips immediately into another sort of verbal play, "I would.

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But the difference between "The Arrival of the Bee Box" and "The Bee Meeting" is that here the speaker remains fully aware that she is using poetic language to shape her experience. In fact, one could read this as a poem about poetic language. If the box represents form and the clamor inside of it represents content, then "The Arrival of the Bee Box" may best be read as a poem in which the speaker explores the relationship between her "asbestos gloves" and her incendiary subject matter.

  1. This point is conveyed through the verbal play on "honey" and "sweet".
  2. Reprinted by permission of the Author. In this role as white spectator of the Other, Plath's speaker expresses utter disgust with Otherness.
  3. It closes with an extra line--significantly, a line about form that the form of the poem is not able to contain--that asserts "The box is only temporary. These self-conscious tropes preview the numerous metaphors and similes that this poem will hazard.

In this view, the two aborted metaphors, the coffin of the midget and the square baby, can be understood as descriptions of poetic content that becomes malformed or remains undeveloped when cramped into conventional structures. In this sense, her first attempts to describe the box were accurate. This is a box she has approached elsewhere in her poetry. In each case it seems to represent the conflict between rigid outer forms and a suppressed inner life.

There, in a line she will recycle for "The Arrival," the daughter of the beekeeper, like the present speaker, tries to look into the box: Here, however, the bees are "furious" rather than disconsolate, and she can see nothing of them.

When the effort to see fails, "I put my eye to the grid. Naturally, then, she begins to create metaphors for the sound in an attempt to understand it.

Sylvia Plath - Arrival of the Bee Box

Over the course of the next three stanzas she proposes three analogies for the contents of the bee box, each one an image of power and oppression. The bees and, we can infer, the poems resent their captivity and agitate to escape. In this analogy, she is right to feel that the bees are dangerous. These political structures, then, are related to the formal structure that controls and contains content.

This is the role she rejects in claiming not to be Caesar. Finally, she tries to speak more directly, but even this effort produces a metaphor: I am not a tyrant who wants to dominate the bees; I simply ordered a bee hive, but it has turned out to be more than I bargained for. Further, however, it too offers a metaphor of power relations--the mental asylum--this time one that the speaker can perhaps identify with more easily since, in "The Bee Meeting," she felt herself becoming the maniac in the box.

Realizing now that she is obliged to the box at least for the night, she senses the danger she is in and toys first with the idea of abdicating her power, "They can be sent back" the passive voice construction is not accidentalthen immediately with the idea of exerting it, "They can die, I need feed them nothing, I am the owner.

Sylvia plath the arrival of the bee box essay for the bees, the role of autocrat is not one she relishes; thus, instead of executing her control over them, she wonders "how hungry they are"--a line that reveals she is probably not capable of withholding food from them. Even the syntax of the line that proposes not to feed them is contorted to throw emphasis on the likelihood that she will care for them: Turning again to the protective myth of Daphne, she tries to imagine freeing them without harm to herself: She does not wonder if the bees will attack her but if they will "forget" her, as though her connection to them is more profound and binding than that of a customer who has just purchased a hive.

Likewise, the choice of the word "immediately" suggests a concern with duration rather than with the imminent event of their assault. This language also indicates that she has some prior connection to the bees. In the reading I am pursuing, this connection parallels a career of writing that shuts up her imaginative vitality in rigid forms.

The bees, then, represent her own repressed feelings, and she dreads the possibility of being overcome by her own memories and outrages.

  • It necessitates protective gear that is hardly less alienating than bark and leaves, a "moon suit and funeral veil;
  • Upon wondering about their ability to disremember her, she suggests that they might be far more attracted to a laburnum, which she personifies as blond and female;
  • I wonder if they would forget me If I just undid the locks and stood back and turned into a tree;
  • She describes their language as "unintelligible syllables" and expresses fear of them as a mass.

Would she ever be able to forget the slights and injustices? Would the feelings immediately consume her? The "unintelligible syllables" causing the commotion in the box are the sounds of her own anger and fury, and it is her inability to articulate an outrage that she can nevertheless hear that "appalls [her] most of all. She recognizes precedents for the metamorphosis: To refuse the metamorphosis is to attempt to remain in the world as she is, an extremely vulnerable position for a woman even more so for a woman writer.

It necessitates protective gear that is hardly less alienating than bark and leaves, a "moon suit and funeral veil.

  1. The next line swiftly undercuts her moment of tenderness by shifting the white role from that of caretaker to that of self-preservation. The content will exceed the form.
  2. In a last effort to find a way to release the bees without risking injury, she reasons that since she is "no source of honey," they have no cause to attack her.
  3. The speaker will release the bees.
  4. In the last stanza, the speaker explores the ultimate white role, that of God.

In a last effort to find a way to release the bees without risking injury, she reasons that since she is "no source of honey," they have no cause to attack her. Yet she overlooks the irony that whoever liberates the bees must inevitably be exposed to danger. This point is conveyed through the verbal play on "honey" and "sweet": Tomorrow I will be sweet God, I will set them free.

On all levels of the poem, the beekeeper opening the box, the woman giving vent to repressed emotions, or the poet uncovering her real subjects, the liberator will likely get hurt.

It closes with an extra line--significantly, a line about form that the form of the poem is not able to contain--that asserts "The box is only temporary. The speaker will release the bees. The content will exceed the form.

More important, of course, the hand that penned the apocalyptic last line will remove its asbestos glove. Reprinted by permission of the Author. The speaker imparts that the box is "locked" and "dangerous" and that she cannot see into it. In the third stanza, when she puts her "eye to the grid," the speaker discerns layers of blackness and darkness that she associates with "the swarmy feeling of African hands. She describes their language as "unintelligible syllables" and expresses fear of them as a mass.

In this role as white spectator of the Other, Plath's speaker expresses utter disgust with Otherness. She diminishes her fear of this threatening collective by assuring herself that "they can be sent back. I read the poem as one in which Plath experiments with the various roles endowed upon white peoples and thereby explores how she, as a white woman, best fits the various molds of whiteness.

Immediately upon having soothed herself by proclaiming her ownership of and, therefore, power over the black creatures sylvia plath the arrival of the bee box essay the box, she permits herself a moment of compassion in which she "wonders how hungry they are. The next line swiftly undercuts her moment of tenderness by shifting the white role from that of caretaker to that of self-preservation. In this new role, the speaker wonders whether the black creatures would forget her should she set them free.

Concern about their forgetting her suggests that she might want credit and homage for freeing them, and as well, she might want them to overlook her mistreatment of them.

Critical Commentary on The Arrival of the Bee Box written by Sylvia Plath.

Upon wondering about their ability to disremember her, she suggests that they might be far more attracted to a laburnum, which she personifies as blond and female. In this white role, she vacillates between wanting credit for her liberal compassion and wanting the security of knowing that other, more superlative white women, the exotic blondes, exist to distract the black creatures away from desiring her. In the last stanza, the speaker explores the ultimate white role, that of God: Broe, too, recognizes Plath's play with power, but she claims that ultimately the speaker concedes to the power of the creatures when she promises in the last line that the box will be temporary 150.

To my mind, the fact that the poem ends with the creatures still boxed and with freedom rescheduled for tomorrow does not signify a concession nor mere mimicry of male authority. The white female speaker in " Arrival of the Bee Box" displays a determined complicity of her own in prolonging the enslavement of black creatures.