In comparing Sylvia Plaths poem Pursuit to Henrik Ibsens play Hedda Gabler, one can see many similarities between their themes of emotional distress and the destructive tendencies of unstoppable internal demons. Throughout Pursuit, a panther hunts Plath, the panther symbolizing an internal feeling that is literally trapping and killing her. In the same way, Heddas own emotions and actions have ensnared her, and she feels that her only way of escape is through death. My poem, Finale closely imitates Plaths poetic mannerisms in Pursuit, while incorporating themes from Hedda Gabler, in order to explain her suicide. The poem is titled Finale because it reveals the events leading to the outcome of the final act of the play Hedda Gabler, and it also incorporates a personal interpretation of the causes of the final scene of Heddas life her death. The extended metaphor throughout Finale is that of a train, paralleling the extended metaphor of the panther in Pursuit.
This was inspired by the train conceit in Act Two of Hedda Gabler, which appears during Heddas elusive conversation with Brack, involving a series of metaphors concerning Bracks wishes to enter a train compartment with Hedda and her husband, which would subsequently create a triangular relationship between himself, Hedda, and Tesman. The conversation ends with Hedda admitting that she would not mind somebody else [climbing] into the compartment (Ibsen 204).
Ironically, the end of this conversation leads to the beginning of Heddas feeling that she is losing control, which signifies the start of the situation that will lead to the end of her life. Finale both begins and ends with a direct reference to the train because of this; Heddas feeling that she had lost control was so great that it engulfed her, mentally stalked her, and created a fear that was slowly consuming her. It follows that she felt that her only way to escape the life that she saw spanning out before her was through death. The train in Finale proves to be stealthier than the panther in Pursuit, for while the panther is an apt pursuer, the train accomplishes what it has striven for throughout the poem Heddas death. This fact is revealed in the fourth line of Finale, when it is stated that the train stalks more stealthily than the panther, as the future of the life of the speaker in Plaths poem is not definite, while it is known that Heddas life ends at the end of the play. Yet another reference to the train appears in line nineteen, each compartments a prison.
The Essay on A Comparison Of Two Poems About Soldiers Leaving Britain To Fight In The First World War
The two poems I am comparing are "Joining The Colours" by Katherine Tynan and "The Send Off" by Wilfred Owen. " Joining The Colours" is about a regiment of soldiers leaving Dublin in August 1914 to go to France to fight. This was at the beginning of the First World War and all the soldiers were happy because it was an opportunity for them to show their girlfriends and their families that they were ...
This reveals that, although Hedda originally believed that a third person entering the compartment would make her feel more free, it contrarily led her to feeling more trapped than she had been before, as she now had to face the burden that Brack could reveal the details of their conversation, which could ruin her life. This realization came to light in Act Four of the play, when Brack tells Hedda that there is nothing to fear so long as I keep silence (Ibsen 262).
It is then that she realizes that she is in his power, subject to [his] will and [his] demands. No longer free! (Ibsen 262).
She then pulls away from him violently and says, No! Thats a thought that Ill never endure! Never (Ibsen 262).
The last three lines of the second stanza of Finale: Weakened like damsels in its path, Cowardly and feeble men lie, Turned from life to luring demise.
signify that the men with whom Hedda acquaints herself do not meet her expectations, and she therefore feels that she can control them, which contrasts the stereotypical image of men being able to dominate women. In view of this, she is able to weaken them and make them more feeble than a woman. The last line here is in specific reference to the scene in Act Three of the play when Hedda encourages Lvborg to commit suicide, and gives him the pistol with which he is to kill himself. The first line of the fourth stanza in Finale, I heave a child to slow its advance, is referring to Heddas action of burning Lvborgs manuscript, which Thea had called their child. This is a way for Hedda to show herself that she can still control the events that make up her life, and the lives of others. By destroying the manuscript she feels that she is once again gaining control of events, but in reality she only delaying the inevitable loss of control that she feels at the end of the play. Later in the fourth stanza of Finale, there is a reference to Hedda seeking the safety of black and white.
The only way to know for sure if a path is right for you is to take and follow the path all the way to the end. Unfortunately life can only allow so many misdirection plays and crossing of paths. There are many paths to choose from and every decision everyday of one's life can lead further down a path or force you to back up. Many people believe in one path and stick with it while others try to ...
The black and white symbolizes the piano on which she played a wild tune just before committing suicide. The last two lines: The train is in the chamber/ Shooting down and down the chamber reveal that it was the train conceit which began the chain of events leading to her death, while it was the gun that was the final cause; the train acting as a bullet in the chamber of the pistol. Finale There is a train tracks me down: Eventually Ill put a stop to it; Its voracity has the landscape wreaking havoc, It stalks more stealthily than the panther. Most loud, most oppressively turn those wheels, Always closing the distance; From ivy ditches, cats shriek ruination: The fire is lit, and barricaded is the tunnel. Shredded by nature I stumble on, Gaunt under noons watchful eye. Among gray river of its tracks What evils run, what monster wakes? Unstoppable, it blazes through the haze Damned by our sins previous, Shrieking: death, let death abound; My vigor must fill its fiery stomach. White ice the overbearing lights and blinding The metal sparks of its wheels; Its steam burning, each compartments a prison, Death emanates from cold metal.
In the path of its horrid shriek, Weakened like damsels in its path, Cowardly and feeble men lie, Turned from life to luring demise. Now ground erupts, to darkened hills; Moonlight seeps through the oppressive air; The silver ravisher, driven by despair On tracks never-ending, catches up to me. Behind the staggering curtain of my lids Skulks the stealth one; through nights attack Ice the metal that makes its frame And speeding, speeding, those many cars. Its passion traps me, melts the land, And I flee, blood freezing in my veins; What calm, what heat can entrap me When chills and blinds those icy eyes? I heave a child to slow its advance, To slow its speed in sweat I drench the fire; Not defeated and still wanting to take my vigor, Scalding breath takes mine away. Its harshness jades me, lays out a spell, The smoldring wood crashes to splinters: Revolted by a hidden desire, I seek The safety of black and white. Engulfed by the tunnel formed by angst, I flee from the path of shadowy remorse, I take another path, each other path I take. Fear grows, engrossing my mind: The train is in the chamber, Shooting down and down the chamber.
The Chamber, by John Grisham, was basically an attack on capital punishment. Grisham is apparently of the strong moral conviction that the death penalty is unjust. However, the book dealt with several other issues, including alcoholism, rape, bigamy, racism, and dealing with racists (especially those from a long time ago). The Chamber is a work of fiction in novel form. Grisham tells the story of ...
References Ibsen, Henrik. Four Major Plays. Trans. James McFarlane and Jens Arup. New York: Oxford UP, 1998 Plath, Sylvia. Pursuit.
Handout given in class on April, 2001 at American School of Milan..