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The Applicant

First, are you our sort of a person?
Do you wear
A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch,
A brace or a hook,
Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,

Stitches to show something’s missing? No, no? Then
How can we give you a thing?
Stop crying.
Open your hand.
Empty? Empty. Here is a hand

To fill it and willing
To bring teacups and roll away headaches
And do whatever you tell it.
Will you marry it?
It is guaranteed

To thumb shut your eyes at the end
And dissolve of sorrow.
We make new stock from the salt.
I notice you are stark naked.
How about this suit –

Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
Will you marry it?
It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
Against fire and bombs through the roof.
Believe me, they’ll bury you in it.

Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
I have the ticket for that.
Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
Well, what do you think of that?
Naked as paper to start

But in twenty-five years she’ll be silver,
In fifty, gold.
A living doll, everywhere you look.
It can sew, it can cook,
It can talk, talk, talk.

It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
You have a hole, it’s a poultice.
You have an eye, it’s an image.
My boy, it’s your last resort.
Will you marry it, marry it, marry it.

After reading “The Applicant” by Sylvia Plath, I can’t help but laugh at her cynical views of marriage. In today’s society, it can seem like finding a spouse is like hiring someone for a job. With online dating websites like match.com and others, you can program a profile of the perfect one for you, click enter, and zing! instant matches of THE ONE at your fingertips. Why find love when you can create it?

Of course, Plath’s view seems to be more dismal. As a feminist, she definitely picks up on certain female sterotypes like cooking ‘to bring teacups’ and being a nurse for a husband and ‘roll away headaches’. Would you marry a robot? it will do ‘whatever you tell it’. it’s clear that Plath rejects the typical life of a housewife and sees a housewife as weak and unaffected. She presents this poem as a sales pitch, satisfaction guaranteed.

Is this all that women mean to men? Are we living dolls that can ‘sew, […] cook […] and talk, talk, talk’?

Check out this creepy video of The Applicant:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDlJXgoHcXE

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            The Grave                            

Man looking into the sea,

taking the view from those who have as much right to it as you have to it yourself,  it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,

but you cannot stand in the middle of this;

the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave. 

The firs stand in a procession, each with an emerald turkey foot at the top, reserved as their contours, saying nothing; repression, however, is not the most obvious characteristic of the sea; 

the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look. 

There are others besides you who have worn that look – whose expression is no longer a protest; the fish no longer investigate them for their bones have not lasted:  men lower nets, unconscious of the fact that they are desecrating a grave,

and row quickly away –  the blades of the oars moving together like the feet of water-spiders as if there were no such thing as death. 

The wrinkles progress among themselves in a phalanx – beautiful under networks of foam, and fade breathlessly while the sea rustles in and out of the seaweed; 

the birds swim throught the air at top speed, emitting cat-calls as heretofore-  \the tortoise-shell scourges about the feet of the cliffs, in motion beneath them; and the ocean,  under the pulsation of lighthouses and noise of bell-bouys, advances as usual,  looking as if it were not that ocean in which dropped things are bound

to sink-  in which if they turn and twist,

it is neither with volition nor consciousness.

When first looking over The Grave, one realizes that the speaker is the poet while observing a man looking into the sea. Ms. Moore notes that everyone has the same right to view the sea. The sea is universal. She says “it is human nature to stand in the middle of the thing, but you cannot stand in the middle of this”. I think that “this” is referring to inevitable death, especially with the mention of a grave.The sea collects the dead as God collects the dead, but the sea has a ravenous( “rapacious look”) appetite, and we like to think of God as a little less savage. I found the image of men lowering nets “unconscious of the fact that they are desecrating a grave”. It’s a paradox : men getting fish (life) from the depths of death. The last few lines remind us that although the world may not care about us, we can find our own value and meaning in this life. after we die, life goes on. The whole world continues on without consciousness of who we were, what we were, why we mattered. It’s an unsettling thought to think that our secrets, our achievements are all washed away- pulled in the depths.

This poem reminded me of the movie The Guardian, with the coast guard captain who drowned. He might live on in memories for a few years, but after the inital grieving period, things will resume as they were “heretofore”.

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