Marriage in “the Applicant” by Sylvia Plath

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Marriage in “The Applicant” Sylvia Plath’s autobiographical poetry was controversial throughout the literary community. She wrote about her views on topics that went against a lot of society’s accepted norms. Plath challenged the boundaries in the poetic world. She wrote about personal topics that were seen as taboo at the time, expressing her emotions through them. A few of the topics included sexuality, mental illness, and suicide. Although Plath received a lot of criticism, she grew to become a significant figure in the confessional movement of poetry. In “The Applicant,” the speaker depicted by Plath views marriage as an unsatisfying, dehumanizing job, sold and pushed on to men and women by society. The speaker represents society. He/she starts off by asking if the applicant is “our sort of person” (l. 1). The speaker is looking for someone who fits a certain criteria. He/she goes through a list of features that seem problematic or could possibly disqualify the applicant. These features include the following: A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch, A brace or a hook, Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch, Stitches to show something is missing (l. 3-6). The speaker’s tone changes and turns into bullying as he/she says “No, no? Then how can we give you a thing?” (l. 6-7). The speaker is displeased that the applicant does not have a feature like those listed. He/she commands the applicant to “stop crying” and “open your hand” (l. 8-9). For this job, the applicant needs a feature that is damaged and is unqualified without one. The tone changes from bullying to persuasive as the speaker reveals what he/she is talking about: marriage. The speaker is taking more of a commercial standpoint here, selling marriage to the consumer, versus interviewing an applicant for a job. He/she is asking the applicant “will you marry it” (l. 15, 22). The speaker goes on saying
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