Major Symbols


The Moon

The moon is traditionally a feminine symbol linked, as it is, to the monthly cycles of ovulation. However, for Plath the moon does not suggest fertility nor does it provide a comforting source of light. Instead it is a symbol of barrenness, coldness and isolation. It is as if she wishes to suggest that the in we are alone in the darkness and there is nothing to cling to in the terrors of the night.



As with many symbols Plath seems to have an ambivalent attitude to flowers: they can mean contradictory things ranging from a symbol of life to a threatening menace perhaps reflecting Plath’s attitude to her troubled and tempestuous life – sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse.



Red is the colour of vitality and life, often it is depicted positively suggesting health, vibrancy and birth or rebirth although it is occasionally used to represent pain and death. Black, however, is predominantly the colour of death and is frequently associated with men. Similarly although white can be a symbol of innocence and purity it can also suggest death and barrenness. Green seems to be the only colour that we can feel unambiguously positive about: it conveys fertility and endurance