Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Warren Liu

Reader 2

Aaron Matz

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This thesis endeavors to intervene in the manner Plath’s maternity poems have been discussed by examining the psychological negotiations of identity that occurred while the speaker’s in Plath’s poems are pregnant with child. The method of this thesis is also a departure from the historicized criticism and interpretations of Plath’s poems that often conflate the experience of the speaker with the details of Plath’s life. This analysis will focus on the poems “Metaphors,” “You’re” and “Nick and the Candlestick” which feature subtle imagery that not only illustrate the speaker’s preoccupation with her own pregnancy but also constructs a metaphorical representation of the maternal body as the locus for the mother’s negotiation of identity. The different forms that the maternal body is represented through, from inanimate objects to a cavernous opening, allow the speaker to fully explore a broad gamut of emotions related to motherhood. The enlargement and reduction of the maternal body, the use of relational language and local instances of transformation are all motifs and conventions that the speakers in Plath’s poems use to navigate the shifting terrain of individual identity during and after maternity. In examining the more abstract poems related to maternity that depict the maternal body through metaphor, this article endeavors to explore the disparate sensations and experiences conveyed in Plath’s poetry.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.