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Lauren Davis

Mr. Thompson
English 1302.10
September 26, 2016
Nine Syllables
In Sylvia Plaths poem Metaphors, she expresses the troubles that she feels go along
with the pregnancy. Plath writes about how she is afraid that she will not be herself anymore
once the baby comes. This lyric poem shows how the poet feels about herself through the use of
varying metaphors that range from an elephant to a fat purse (2-6). To show how confined
Plath feels by the pregnancy she uses metaphors, rhyme, and tone to express how she feels.
Plath uses many metaphors in the poem to describe what she is feeling. Plath begins the
poem with the metaphor Im a riddle in nine syllables (1). In this line Plath means that she is
questioning her sense of self during the nine months of pregnancy. In Alkalay-Guts review of
Metaphors he wrote to begin a poem with [the] line [Im a riddle] is to introduce the
question of identity [] the speaker's altering body and her situation have the inevitable result of
altering her concept of self [] (Alkalay-Gut). Plath probably feels that she will be kept from
pursuing her writing career after the baby comes. But this is not the only way that Plath shows
how she feels, it is even shown in the technical side of the poem.
The rhyme scheme of the poem also helps convey how trapped Plath feels in the
pregnancy. Plath feels confined in her new life and she found a way to show that restrain in her
poem as well. Her poem uses a unique pattern of nines. Each line has nine syllables, and there
are nine lines in the poem. Even the title Metaphors has nine letters in it. All these nines stand
for the nine months of pregnancy that Plath is enduring. In his review of the poem Alkalay-Gut
also comments that In writing a poem of nine, nine-syllable lines, the poet is contained [] by
the nine-ness of pregnancy, [which] contribute[s] significantly to that feeling of confinement,
[which happens to be] another metaphor for pregnancy (Alkalay-Gut). While the structure helps
to add to the overall feeling of entrapment, the tone really helps sell the idea.

The tone of the poem contributes to the feeling of confinement the pregnancy is to Plath.
Plath uses phrases like fat purse, a stage, and a cow in calf (6-7) to show that she feels that
her only reason for being is to be a container for the baby until it is born. The degeneration of
the metaphors parallels the degeneration of her self-image. By the end of this list she is not
human, either to herself or to others says Alkalay-Gut when addressing Plaths word choice.
Plath sets a dark and gloomy tone for the poem with those word choices.
Plath wrote this poem to show how confined pregnancy made her feel. At a time when
she was worried about how she was going to care for a child and continue with her career this
poem probably helped her express how she felt about her situation. Other people can relate to
this poem if they are going through a similar situation, such as needing to work, taking care of
children, as well as remaining an individual person and not getting lost in either one.

Works Cited
Plath, Sylvia. "Metaphors." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing.
By X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 13th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. 737
Print.
Alkalay-Gut, Karen. "Plath's Metaphors." Explicator 50.3 (1992): 189. Academic Search
Complete. Web. 7 Dec. 2016.

Outline
I.

II.

III.

IV.

V.

Introduction
a. Hook
i. Describe the poem.
b. Transition
i. Talk about the metaphors.
c. Thesis - To show how confined Plath feels by the pregnancy she uses metaphors,
rhyme, and tone to express how she feels.
Body Paragraph One: Metaphors
a. Explain the first line.
b. Relate quote.
c. Relate it to how she feels.
Body Paragraph Two: Rhyme
a. Explain the nine structure.
b. Explain reason for the nines.
c. Explain quote.
Body Paragraph Three: Tone
a. Explain the words used.
b. Quote
c. Explain the quote and words.
Conclusion
a. Restate thesis: Plath wrote this poem to show how confined pregnancy made her
feel.
b. Explain her life.
c. Relate