How Does Sylvia Plath Write About the Natural World?

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Sylvia Plath uses nature and the world as a foundation for several of her poems. She grew up with her family living by the sea which she admired for its beauty and power. However, though she admired the sea whilst she was growing up, Plath often depicts nature and the sea as threatening and compelling. Contrastingly, though, in some ways Plath portrays nature and the sea as a sign of hope and sympathy. The natural world provokes many different feelings for Plath, which can be explored in many of her poems. ‘The Hermit at Outermost House’ is a description of a hermit and its experiences living by the sea. In this poem, there is perhaps a stronger sense of hope rather than negativity about the sea, it suggests that the power and ferocity of the sea can be conquered. Plath uses positive imagery to convey this. An example of this is when the poet writes, “Backbone unbendable as Timbers of his upright hut?” This line is effective because it emphasises just how adaptable this hermit is. When Plath states ‘Backbone unbendable’ it suggests that this hermit can withstand anything; it has the capabilities of acclimatizing to any natural setting. This is also significant because it could imply that this small creature is able to tackle the toughest of extremes that nature, or in this case, the sea has to offer him. Furthermore, it could be argued that this lonely hermit is not as weak as its size may suggest. This is evident when Plath writes, “The great gods, Stone-Head, Claw-Foot… And claw-threat, realized that.” This whole second stanza is useful because it suggests that these powerful ‘great gods’, which I think represent the ferocity of the sea, have an element of respect for the hermit. Plath writes ‘claw-threat, realised that’ which indicates that the sea or the ‘great gods’ have acknowledged the strength of the hermit and it is not just a small sea creature. This

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