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The Second Coming

The Second Coming

In his poem “The Second Coming,” Yeats predicts cataclysmic changes about to be wrought upon human kind. He states, “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,” (1511). This statement is in line with Modernistic thought of this time period. Modernistic writers felt that traditional teachings left something to be desired, and that it was time for change. There was a huge upheaval in religious beliefs and current religious convictions were being challenged with new scientific knowledge. Yeats foresees spiritual changes in the words, “Surely some revelation is at hand;/Surely the Second Coming is at hand…”(1511).

The Modernistic period was also a time when questions were asked about the old, established, and customary beliefs. Writers attempted to challenge people to think about archaic ways of conduct, and to check the motivations behind their beliefs. Joseph Conrad stated in Heart of Darkness, “Black shapes crouched, lay, sat between the trees leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth, half coming out, half effaced within the dim light, in all the attitudes of pain, abandonment, and despair,”(1377). He portrays in these lines the ugliness of Europeans treatment of another culture. He is challenging his reader to adopt another attitude, but does not ever tell his reader how to feel, another defining feature of literary Modernism. Conrad tells us about a Black man with a white cloth tied about his neck. Again he does not interpret this white cloth, but leaves it open to our interpretation, “He had tied a bit of white worsted round his neck – Why?”(1377). Conrad questions the motives of white Europeans in Africa, repeatedly referring to their greed: “. . . weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly…”(1377).

Conrad, in his statement about their building of a railway, “The cliff was not in the way or anything but this objectless blasting was all the work going on”(1376), asks his reader to observe the violence against a country, not only its people, but the actual land.

Plath’s Daddy – Plath as a Weak Feminist

Plath as a Weak Feminist in Daddy

Plath’s innate emptiness and emotional constraint comes , I believe, from her lack of male encouragement and her according need for domination. This streams from the untimely death of her father at 9. In this poem Plath alludes to her relationship to her father with an emphasis on his German background and identity. In this way she comments on him in contradicting terms, firstly, as a divine figure: “..A bag full of God”, towering over her in a seemingly totalitarian way. She then transforms her implication with ” No God, but a swatztika” a completely ironic comment in comparison to the first as Nazism is essentially pagan in its nature.

The extended reference to the confusion of her father as Hitler is shown through indications of his “Mein Kampf look” and “neat moustache.” Similarly, Plath confuses herself with the role of a Jew, symbolising the insecurity which lies within her subconsciousness, and the recognition which she has of her victimisation from men.

This victimisation follows on with allusions to her marriage with Hughes, and the similarities Plath associated between her father and husband:

“If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two—
The vampire who said he was you”

Hughes himself acknowledged this confusion in his poem THE SHOT:

“Your real target stood behind me
Your Daddy
The man with the smoking gun”

This quote reinforces her father’s role in Plath’s eventual demise as it implies that the ‘smoking gun’ once shot Plath’s bullet of fatality. Essentially this poem signifies Plath’s weakness, and threatens her iconic stature as a feminist . Reacting against this common stereotype with which she is named, her poetry indicates a lack of stability and inner faith, excluding those who are bitter and entirely negative.

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