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The Arrival Of The Bee Box

Sylvia Plath

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Metaphors in the poem
Added by: Angela
I don't know about you but I think that this whole poem is a metaphor for Sylvia Plath herself. I think that the box is her mind and the "swarm" inside the box are her thoughts. She says 'I will be sweet God, I will set them free'. I think she means that only through her death will she be able to set these dark thoughts and emotions free. I think that maybe she could have written this poem whilst she was comtemplating suicide.
A Second Look at Those Meataphors
Added by: Samuel Biagetti
I think Angela has made a good observation by speculating that the bees represent the immensely powerful and active thoughts swarming inside Sylvia Plath's head ("The unintelligible syllables / It is like a Roman mob . . ."). But one should be careful of reading suicidal thoughts INTO all her work. The choice to let the bees out INTO the world rather than let them die inside the box seems to me to represent her commitment to expressing her thoughts in poetry rather than staying quiet, as she had done through most of the aweful summer preceding the writing of the "bee poems." Like many of her poems, this one seems to deal with the power and significance of writing.
Added by: Rachel
i think that when she says

"the box is only temporary", that she could be talking about about one of two things.

1. that this frustration and "mob" inside her is only temporary and if she lets it out then she can be free

2. that the box represents her body and how everything is trapped inside her but her body is only temporary and when she dies that she will be free. but i dont necessarily think that this means she was thinking about suicide, just her own death. like yeats in "sailing to byzantium
"Arrival of the bee box"
Added by: David
the lines

With the swarmy feeling of African hands

Minute and shrunk for export

strike me now as troublingly racist; has anyone any knowledge of Plath's attitudes?

Not racist...
Added by: Liz
David- when Plath refers to the swarmy feeling of African hands I assume she is alluding to late last century when freak shows were popular. I suppose the european aristocrats and passer-by's would be fascinated at seeing people with different coloured skin...sorry if I don't explain myself well, I'm only 14...not too well endowed in the knowledge of life....
Added by: Alice
I see it not as a racist comment but as an allusion to Africans in slavery.
Now having second thoughts about this box of bees, she questions the rights of the bees and her right to keep them imprisoned.
The poem has themes of oppression, whether it be of race or gender... or bees.
African hands
Added by: Leah
David -
I'm 14 years old and we've been studying Plath's poetry in English. Recently I also read The Arrival of The Bee Box, and I think it's one of my favourite poems. I agree with Angela about the bees being a metaphor for Plath's thoughts. I think Plath is saying that the 'box is only temporary' not because she is contemplating suicide, or talking about death, but that she is saying that it is her decision whether to let her thoughts out into the world. The 'grid, no exit' expresses to me that more thoughts are entering her mind, but she can't decide how to deal with them all. And with the whole 'African hands' discussion - I believe that this is referring to African Bees, which are known to be highly dangerous and temperamental; prone to sudden attack. This refers to Plath's fear of what may happen if she releases her knowledge, her thoughts. She is scared that many arguments and fights may result, and the anger of those around her may be focussed on her.
This is what I think, but then again I'm only 14, so don't have much 'worldly experience'!!!!!
Added by: Vicky
For drama we have been studying the poem and I was wondering, do you think her suicide has anything to do with the era in which she was living in? She dies in the 1960's if i am correct? A time of freedom of speech and change.
Added by: mr. n
"The Arrival of the Bee Box" is, like many of Plath's poems, rooted in her relationship with her father, who was a member of an English beekeeping (I forget the technical term) society in England, and a strange, removed father.

Also, as for racism, it might be, although more research would tell for sure, that "swarmy feeling of African hands/ minute and shrunk for export" denotes that the box was shipped from Africa to England, and does not connote any racist leanings.

England, in the 60s, was experiencing a sexual revolution, but not as much of the turbulence generated in America by racial tensions or the Vietnam war. I don't think, given her seemingly introverted poetic personality, that the author of "The Moon and the Yew Tree" or "Daddy" was too concerned with oppression by men or other limitations of her gender, but rather her own awkward or pained relationship to her family and life.
comments of arrival of the bee box
Added by: Mian Mobin
this poem has strong symbolic significane about the colonial system bee box can be taken as a world and bees as the weak,poor and helpless people in this poem sylvia gives the image of ownership and servantship.
"i have simply orderd a box of maniacs
they can be sent back.
they can die,i need feed them nothing,i am the owner.
sylvia has also used the image of moon suit and funeral veil , which represents hypocrisy and false purity.
box can also be taken as a world ,the size which sylvia says suits to world because world is as small in the comparison of the whole universe as a small coffin of a baby or a midget.

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