Re-reading of ‘A Birthday Present’

Re-read ‘A Birthday Present’. By means of close analysis of the language of this poem, demonstrate how Plath achieves her effects in this poem, and by means of BRIEF reference to one or two other poems, say how typical of her writing you find it.
Plath’s poem ‘A Birthday Present’ creates binary oppositions of images by using antithesis. An example of antithesis in this poem is when the narrator asks, “is it ugly, is it beautiful?” The adjectives ‘ugly’ and ‘beautiful’ are opposing images. The structure of this phrase is mirrored in the line below when the narrator asks, “has it breasts, has it edges?” These two images are opposite as when we imagine ‘breasts’ they are round and smooth and not sharp like an ‘edge’. By using this linguistic device Plath creates a ‘seesaw’ effect between positive (‘beautiful’) and negative (‘ugly’) lexis. Plath uses this device of conflicting lexis throughout the poem creating a tension.
Furthermore, it can also be said that Plath uses these binary oppositions on a more subtle level to create the theme of good vs. evil. This theme can be seen in some of Plath’s other poems. Take ‘Face Lift’ or ‘Morning Song’ for example, the theme of good and evil is represented by the images of babies she juxtaposes with those of death. The same binary opposition of images is used in ‘A Birthday Present’ when the narrator says, “White as babies’ bedding and glittering with dead breath.” Again the two juxtaposed images are of death and babies. It can therefore be said that this theme is typical of Plath’s writing and is probably influenced by the miscarriage she suffered prior to writing these poems.

Another device that Plath employs for a specific effect in this poem is her use of the personal pronoun ‘you’. The narrator questions, “Is it impossible for you to let something go and have it go whole?” and, “Must you kill what you can?” Many other writers use this device to achieve the desired effect of involving the audience as it addresses them directly. However Plath also has another motive. On first glance one may assume that the narrator is questioning the present as it is the apparent focus of the narrator throughout the poem. However, considering the number of references to God throughout the poem, (“My God what a laugh!”, But my god, the clouds are like cotton.”) one could assess that the question is actually aimed at God.
Moreover, the theme in ‘A Birthday Present’ of questioning God can be linked to some of Plaths other poetry. Plath’s father died when she was a young child. From studying her life I found out that she loved and idolised her father. In her poems ‘Daddy’ and ‘Full Fathom Five’ Plath makes subtle suggests that she now sees her father as a God-like figure. In ‘Full Fathom Five’ she writes, “You defy other Godhood. I walk dry on your kingdom’s border”, when talking to her father. This could therefore be evidence that although she may seem to be addressing the birthday present with questions in this poem she is really questioning to her Dad. The theme of Dad arises in many of Plath’s poems and so this poem is typical of her writing.
Like many of Plath’s other poems she uses personification in ‘A Birthday Present’ to make an inert object appear to have a life of its own. The narrator is describing the present when she says, “I feel it looking. I feel it thinking”. The two verbs are actions that only a living person could do. Plath, however uses them to make the present in the poem come alive. The literary device of personification is typical to some of Plath’s other poems. One example is in her poem ‘Cut’ where she personifies her thumb by referring to it as ‘Little pilgrim’, ‘Saboteur’ and ‘Kamikaze man’, before reminding us at the end of the poem that it is just a ‘Thumb stump’. This is therefore a device that Plath uses typically in her writing.
In conclusion, many of the themes and ideas found in ‘A Birthday Poem’ can also be found and mirrored in Plath’s other poetry. She also uses a range of literary and linguistic devices in this poem that is typical of her writing.

Order a unique copy of this paper
(550 words)

Approximate price: $22

Basic features
  • Free title page and bibliography
  • Unlimited revisions
  • Plagiarism-free guarantee
  • Money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 support
On-demand options
  • Writer’s samples
  • Part-by-part delivery
  • Overnight delivery
  • Copies of used sources
  • Expert Proofreading
Paper format
  • 275 words per page
  • 12 pt Arial/Times New Roman
  • Double line spacing
  • Any citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard)

Our guarantees

At Solution Essays, we are determined to deliver high-quality papers to our clients at a fair price. To ensure this happens effectively, we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees. This guarantees will ensure you enjoy using our website which is secure and easy to use.

Money-back guarantee

Most companies do not offer a money-back guarantee but with Solution Essays, it’s either a quality paper or your money back. Our customers are assured of high-quality papers and thus there are very rare cases of refund requests due to quality concern.

Read more

Zero-plagiarism guarantee

All our papers are written from scratch and according to your specific paper instructions. This minimizes any chance of plagiarism. The papers are also passed through a plagiarism-detecting software thus ruling out any chance of plagiarism.

Read more

Free-revision policy

We offer free revisions in all orders delivered as long as there is no alteration in the initial order instruction. We will revise your paper until you are fully satisfied with the order delivered to you.

Read more

Privacy policy

All data on our website is stored as per international data protection rules. This ensures that any personal data you share with us is stored safely. We never share your personal data with third parties without your consent.

Read more

Fair-cooperation guarantee

Ordering and sending money to us is an indication that you are purchasing our products and services. To have business talks laid out in the official language, you can check on our terms and conditions and get more information about this.

Read more

Calculate the price of your order

550 words
We'll send you the first draft for approval by September 11, 2018 at 10:52 AM
Total price:
The price is based on these factors:
Academic level
Number of pages
Order your essay today and save 20% with the discount code: LEMONADEPlace Order