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The Applicant

Sylvia Plath

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'The Applicant' Analysis
Added by: Jessie
Im studying some of Sylvia Plath's selected peices for my year 12 VCE, and to reply to you Mina, i have some nots that mayhelp you, and i welcome anyone who has some ideas of their own to email me at fluffie_queen@yahoo.com ...

Firstly, an overveiw of the applicant ... Plath attacks the forces in society which believe we must conform to marriage, whilt she challanges the roles of men and women in society and the patriarchal ideologies.
Stanza 1 - Its is clear that (perhaps a man) is being interveiwed, and the intervewer asks bitterly 'are you out sort of person', with manipulative power, is there anything wrong with you? are you fake? 'rubber breasts or a rubber crouch' suggests do youhave any sexual fetishes? are you 'normal'?

Stanza 2 - 'stitches to show something missing?" - is there anything to prevent you carrying on your seed, eg; penis in working order? - 'how can WE give you a thing' WE suggests plural, the applicant is an outsider, perhaps man against women. - empty empty, here is a hand to fill it and willing ... do whatever you tell it" - woman is objectified to a hand, domesticated hand to serve the man, to perform a service, needs no recognition, mechanised - woman is refered to as 'it', meaning the woman has no individuality - 'will you marry it, it is gauranteed..." - man has the power to choose, woman has no choice, neutralized -

Stanza 3 and 4 - 'i notice you are stark naked' - vulnerablity, individual ('you') - 'how about a suit, black and stiff but not a bad fit, will you marry fit?" - marry the suit, marry the job, marry the role as a bread winner - suit is conformity - black and stiff and not a bad fit - its not perfect but it will do because you have to conform . 'waterproof, shatterproof, proof against fire and bombs through the roof' - role the man is expected to play, you are a victim, the 'suit' shapes you, you cant break away from it - it defines the person, work marriage identity. 'believe me they'll bury you in it" - THE MAN ... it will be your end, a job for life until you die.

Stanza 5 - adresses the male, clearing defining his role does he choose to take on the 'suit' 'naked as paper to start" - the woman is blank, no identity until the male paves her one, the male creates her identity

Stanza 6 - constant referal to womanas "it" - shows objectification of woman, "it can tak talk talk", shows women as nothing interlleatual, they are nothing until marriage when the man gives them an identity. Women are merely an extension of the man, women are isolated and only have connection to the world through a man ....

final stanza - the woman will do whatever you need 'it' to do - "my boy its your last resort" - sarcasm. "will you marry it, marry it, marry it" - its like a broken record, must conform, you are marrying the job aswell as marrying the woman

Other things to note on the poem ...

* the flexibility of the poem, ambiguity, structure
*human realationships are mechanised
*before the man is merely parts, then the suit gives him purpose, defines him, woman on the other hand cannot be defined, she is just a toy and a puppet to be manipulated and serve the man
* poem may be connected to PLath's realationship with Ted Hughs
* the "black" suit can be connected to the "black" shoes refernce in the poem "Daddy" - is resembles conformity and opression!

Thats all guys hhope i helped, feel free to email me any comments too! :) byeeeeee :)
Black and stiff, but not a bad fit . . .
Added by: Samuel Biagetti
While in this poem Plath shows very acutely the way in which women are objectified and treated like merchandise, what always surprises me is the great compassion she shows for men at the same time. Like women, they are forced to play a contrictive social role (How about this suit? . . .), whether or not it is right for them as individuals. And just as women have no identity and no intrinsic worth without a man, so a man is seen as a sort of invalid, an empty-handed beggar, without a woman. And all of this is pulled of with an electrifying rhythm, rhyme, and the terrible irony of an important personal life decision being reduced to something like getting a mortgage loan. Superb. It expresses a whole class of perversities and ironies in our social order, accomplishing in about 40 lines what many novels only attempt. (And the lines "It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof / Against fire and bombs through the roof" always make me laugh. Seems sadly suggestive of the Brits persevering through the Nazi bombing, and the ideal of the tough, supportive husband and wife it produced.)
comment on context
Added by: Dr Jamez Bowditch
here, if we have a close look, it seems to be a dead lock between two worlds for Sylvia.
Sylvia was a beautiful young lady and to be drove to such an extremity is quite upsetting to witness but i think the way in which she has stood up for what she believes in, is magnificent!

Dr Jamez Bowditch
The Applicant
Added by: dan
Now, if you disagree with me ... be kind.

I don't know how many dating services were operating when this poem was written. However, the movie Butterfield 8 coincides with the period. Consequently, I’ve paraphrased the poem as a salesman would be talking to an "Applicant".

Now sir, while we don’t discriminate, we have very high standards. The ladies you will meet here are the most sophisticated in the city. I'm sure you'll meet our minimum standards.

I know you’re lonely, but how can we help you if you cannot admit to yourself, and us, that you need someone to make you complete? So chin up, and let’s look at a few files.

Now this one will help your career. She is the perfect woman for you. She is from a traditional family and knows what is expected of her. Look, our services are guaranteed – what do you have to loose?

And I hate to bring up the unpleasant, but you are purchasing services are for life. If, for any reason, she departs before you, we’ll help you. My God you are so new at this aren’t you? Let’s take a look at the next file.

Now this girl is very proper, intelligent, and somewhat self-reliant, and will take a little getting used to. She’ll stand with you through thick and thin. She’ll probably bury you .. ha ha.

Ok, may be that one was too much for you. So let’s take a look. Ahh this one, we’ve been keeping her just for you! We are confident that she is a virgin.

She’ll keep her looks, too, over the years. She’s domestic, and will be a good mother for the kids. She’ll organize PTA meetings and community watches. People listen to women with looks.

Man, she’s healthy. She’s maternal. If you dreamed of becoming president, she’ll get you votes. I can’t imagine a better match for you. The offer expires today. Sign here.

Added by: adam
poetry is bullshit and its a waste of time
Added by: Daphne
I would like to comment on Jessie's analysis. The part in the poem talking about the "glass eye...rubber crotch" is using dismemberment, to show how the people in the poem are not complete, like there's "something['s] missing". There is more talk on the physical qualities than social qualities of the applicant, which shows how marriage here is portrayed to be merely a physical relationship, just applying for a wife to "do whatever you tell it". It is as if the parts are molded into identical forms as by an assembly line, and it seems interchangeable and mass-produced, and all the parts here are fake, like the "glass eye", the "false teeth", and the "rubber breasts", which again show how there's something missing about marriage which is painted in this poem.

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