Plath, Sylvia. “Barren Woman.” The Norton Introduction to Poetry. J. Paul Hunter, Alison Booth, and Kelly J. Mays. 9th edition. New York: Norton, 2007. 563
Gender criticism lends itself to this poem because it emphasizes the social struggles that women of the time period had to deal with. Many women were not thought of as much. Many thought women were only good for making a house a home and having children. Plath using the term “barren” suggests the cultural values placed upon fertility. Not only is the speaker not having children, she is unable to; “empty” in a sense. The speaker will never have children, which is a very hard fact for one to accept and cope with. “Barren” also refers to the lack of the ability to create life. It is a right bestowed on the majority, and not being able to singles the speaker out. All in all, this poem represents the social standards women had to live up to and how one comes to terms with accepting they one is different.
1.) Why do you feel Plath chose to write a poem about being an outcast? Was this subject considered a taboo for the time period? Do you feel many women or families related to this situation?
2.) Why does Plath use an empty museum as a metaphor for being a barren woman? Could it be because museums are places used to house creativity and once they are empty they become somewhat pointless?
3.) Are the images of stone statues representative of the feelings one has when one finds out that they are different; solitude, alone?