Sylvia Plath's "Metaphors"

Exploring the issue of pregnancy through "Metaphors" by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath’s “Metaphors” is a nine-syllable riddle, and the reader is invited to solve it. The speaker is the poet herself and the riddle is about her pregnancy since the poem has nine lines and each line has nine syllables. The word pregnancy also has nine letters and it lasts nine months. However, the poet expresses little pleasure about expecting a child. Although she uses humorous images, the tone of the poem cannot be described as happy or excited. Instead, it is bitter and a little sad. The poet sometimes mocks herself but feels anxious and uneasy about motherhood. For instance, she compares herself to an elephant as she has gained weight. She knows that there is no turning back and that her life will change forever with the baby. Thus, the role of motherhood is a heavy burden for her.

The poet sees herself as a mean and just a carrier for a child who is metaphorically described as a fruit. In the poem, elephants are valuable for their ivory and a house is valuable for a family. In this sense, a pregnant woman is not a human being but a kind of machine for baby-making. The color of the fruit, green, suggests her negative approach to pregnancy as green apples are mostly sour. Also, there is a sense of guilt since the apples are associated with “the forbidden fruit”. In other words, she conveys her anxiety and uneasiness to the reader through the use of metaphors.