Marriage by society to strive to marry

 Marriage and domesticity is a common motif in many of SylviaPlath’s poems an example being ‘The Applicant’. Plath focuses on the pressuresthat society pins on us to look and act a certain way which is deemedappropriate. The poem, The Applicant, allows Plath to present what she assumes societybelieves is best suited for marriage.At first glance the title ‘The Applicant’ suggests to thereader a person applying for a certain role thus, it enables the reader tovisualise a job interview scenario whereby the applicant is trying to expressher best qualities. However, this is not the case as further reading shows thatthe applicant is not given the opportunity to do so rightfully. The Applicant demonstrates the problems of young women who areindoctrinated by society to strive to marry – as the ultimate goal in life andbeing the ideal wife. From a young age, girls are pampered to appear a certainway which is advertised by society via media. They are influenced by thepressures society pins on them which leads to them forgetting their own valuesand morals.

Plath hints to the reader how women are objectified to a robotic, merelyslave-like creations whereby their intelligence is not the pinnacle ofcharacteristics she should possess. But rather, her significance of being thisidealistic woman is determined by her physical appearance and what she is ableto do in terms of being a housemother. Ergo, Plath succeeds in creating an aurathat conveys women as being oppressed by society; the need to reform socialstereotypes particularly towards women is needed and women should beappreciated more than what society pinpoints as key characteristics. Plath oncesaid: “What horrifies me most is the idea of being useless: well-educated,brilliantly promising, and fading out into an indifferent middle age.” She isable to assert these views in The Applicant therefore Sylvia Plath succeed incasting a negative light on stereotypes of the ideal women. “The Applicant” is explicitly a portrait of marriage in contemporaryWestern culture.The Applicant on initial thoughtsis somewhat perplexing since we may find it difficult to distinguish whether aman or a woman is applying for the ‘role’.

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Line 5 the most thought-provokingline in the first stanza due to the fact it suggest the applicant is a woman atfirst when it states “breast”, however it then says “crotch” suggesting a man.This could be because Sylvia Plath although being a strong-willed feminist shealso recognises that men also suffer from domestic abuse too. Women have to meeta certain physical standards in order to qualify for this job – if not met theyfail the recruitment process. This shows how harsh society can be with itsdemands of a woman appealing to men in specific way, thus, Sylvia Plathsucceeds in her goal of casting a negative light on society. The tone of the second stanza is also demanding like the firstone. This is evident when the interviewer commands the applicant to “stopcrying” instead of trying to soothe and comfort the applicant demonstratingthat society is heartless and selfish. The fixation on people putting on abrave act instead of seeking for help when needed, stems from the ideals ofsociety.

Sylvia Plath having suffered from depression before she committedsuicide wrote poems such as The Applicant to show that society in general needsto overlook the idea of putting on a mask to hide their emotions. However, shedoesn’t put the blame on people with depression but pins it on societyindirectly. As society commands people with depression to overcome it shown inthe use of “stop crying” rather than trying to improve the person’s mental state.The satire nature of the poem also adds to puzzling andthought-provoking purpose behind the poem. Ergo, challenges the reader to studyit more closely in order to gather an understanding of the poem.

This may bepurposefully done in order to grasp and challenge the readers mind into givingit absolute attention – since marriage and domesticity is an on-going problemin society today and at the time. The motifs of marriage and domesticity holdshigh importance for the poet, Sylvia Path. Claims of unseen letters written byPlath herself suggests that she was abused 2 days before her miscarriage. Shewas also abused by her parents which created the bases of negative schemas throughouther life which eventually marshalled her to committing suicide. Events such asthese are evident to why she infuses many of poems with this theme of marriageand domesticity. There is a definitive link between the ideas behind SylviaPlath’s poems and her personal life. Throughout her life, critics have suggested that she is aPoetic Feminist, a ‘driving force’ for rights of women after the war throughthe use of her poems. In many of her poems she is extremely critical ofdomesticity in marriage.

Her critique of domesticity demonstrates her negativeoutlook on the idea showing that is completely against it. She failed to seethe next wave of feminism and how women have come thus far since her death.During her time as a poet she would have been surrounded with ideas of maledominance in her everyday life.

Women after helping in the war were ‘forced’ toget back to their fitting jobs that the media glamourised. Jobs such ashousekeeping and taking care of their family were socially constructed forwomen.It later becomes clear that the Applicant is a man seekingfor a wife. The applicant has everything he needs but lacks a hand to hold.

Theinterviewer represents society as a whole due to the demands that they ask for.This demanding society that Plath was present prompts you to appear a certainway before you can be accepted and fit in with the norms of society. Synecdocheis used when the interviewer says, “here is a hand” in stanza 2 – theinterviewer is referring to a woman. The use of synecdoche is to demonstratethe concepts of the household woman. The women described in the interview is  


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