Spinster – A Commentary

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Spinster is a poem which juxtaposes the order and disorder of the seasons and how exactly this affects the persona’s desperation to keep control. The title ‘Spinster’ implies that the persona has a chosen a life without men, which also implies that she wants full control over her life.
Stanza one begins very formally, ‘During a ceremonious April walk/ With her latest suitor’. Lexis such as ‘ceremonious’ and ‘suitor’ creates a very formal atmosphere, therefore creating more structure, which is also implied by the use of the word ‘suitor’, which suggests very little or no feeling towards him. The stanza continues to imply that the woman can hardly stand disorder, ‘intolerably struck/ By the birds irregular babel/ And the leaves litter’. The poet uses alliteration and positive alliteration to suggest that the woman can not handle disorder with words such as ‘irregular’ and ‘litter’.
Then, in stanza two, Plath stays detached from the poem, and the whole stanza implies disorder. ‘Observed’ suggests that the woman in the poem was watching from a distance, and therefore the writing is very detached and as if a step has been taken back in order to see things as a whole. Also, the whole stanza implies disorder with lexis such as ‘unbalanced’, ‘uneven’, ‘wilderness’ and ‘disarray’, all of which suggest disarray and no order. Almost all of these words are relating to nature, ‘Through a rank wilderness of fern and flower/She judged petals in disarray’ The use of ‘rank wilderness’ implies that the female persona believes that nature, shown by the ‘fern and flower’ is dirty and scary because she does not know anything abut it, as implied by ‘wilderness’. Moreover, the poet is again detached from the poem with use of ‘judged’, which sounds like she is not involved with what is going on. The whole of this stanza is based around nature, which the persona (and therefore poet) clearly dislike as a consequence of the disorder and that it can not be predicted.

In contrast, stanza three is full of lexis based upon order, which is suggested by ‘Scrupulously’, ‘order’, ‘white and black’, ‘ice and rock’ and ‘discipline’. This language is very perfected, and also separated out into clear and completely different groups, as shown in ‘black and white’. The stanza begins with telling the reader what this stanza is about, namely, winter. ‘How she longed for winter then!’ The use of ‘longed for’ suggests that the persona is desperate for winter, which is implied in the onomatopoeic quality of ‘longed for’, and this also suggests that winter is a very long time away. Moreover, the writer uses words such as ‘austere’ to explain winter, which suggests that winter is more simple an there is little to it and it, is therefore not confusing.
Also, the writer suggests that the persona has complete control over her, ‘hearts frosty discipline’. This implies that the persona even has complete control over her feelings, but the only way to keep this control is by having none, implied by ‘frosty’, which suggests that the persona is cold emotionally, or that she has no feelings. However, in her attempt not to be emotional, negative feelings are created about emotion, which completely defeats her objective.
Stanza four is similar to stanza two, as a lexis implying disorder is used such as ‘unruly and ‘vulgar motley’. As soon as the stanza begins, there is a hint of regret with ‘But here’ and this implies that what is coming in this stanza, the persona regrets a lot. The line is finished with the word ‘burgeoning’, which implies blossoming and growth. This suggests that because growth is uncontrollable, the persona regrets it because is mean that she would have no control. The poem goes on to say, ‘Unruly enough to pitch her five queenly wits/ into vulgar motley’. The use of ‘five queenly wits’ implies that the persona believes herself to be above all of the disorder and disarray in spring, and that she is therefore superior. Also, the use of ‘vulgar motley’ implies that spring is common and repulsive, but the persona is scared of this because she does not know much about it.
Generally, the whole of the two lines implies that spring forces the persona to feel, which is not something she wants to do, implied in stanza three with ‘heart’s frosty discipline’. Then, the writer implies that people who like spring are idiots with, ‘Let idiots/ Reel giddy in bedlam spring’. This is very derogatory because it implies that all people who like spring are idiots, and the use of ‘reel’ suggests that disorder again. The stanza ends with a juxtapose line to the rest of the stanza, ‘She withdrew neatly’. This gives a queenly imagery which emphasised her control as the persona regains her composure after suggesting that spring makes her loose it.
The final stanza is the solution to disorder, in which the persona implies that she can not handle relationships, or feelings, and therefore her only solution is the title, ‘Spinster’. This is suggested through out the stanza, but starts on the second line, ‘barricade of barb and check’. The barricade is to stop the progression of emotion, and the writer sues monosyllabic words in order to force her point across, such as ‘barb and check’, both of which also have a very hard sound to them. This forceful comment suggests that the persona wants love, but has built a ‘barricade’ around her in order to not let anyone in. The stanza finishes with ‘Or love, either’, which implies that the barricade she has created will not ever let love in, but because it is an afterthought, it also makes love sound insignificant.
The structure of the poem is very ordered, as it stops regularly at the end of each stanza, the lines are regular lengths and the words are in similar patterns throughout each stanza. It is clear that the attempt to maintain order shown in the words of the poem is also shown by the structure as the persona is desperate for control and regulation.
Overall, the poem is very detached and sounds almost factual due to the lack of emotion throughout. Also, the poem has a feminist undertone, in which the persona swears to keep men out of her life by being a spinster. Moreover, the poem is very juxtapoic with the cross between order and disorder throughout. However, the whole poem suggests that deep down the poet wants love; it is just that they are too scared to find it.

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