Friday, July 15, 2011

Confessions of the Mind

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For many poets, writing about nature and love is an easy feat. The poets who are considered in the Confessional Genre draw their influence from something quite different though. They use their own life experiences of pain and suffering to create great poems. In Theodore Roethke’s “Dolor,” Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror,” and Sharon Olds’ “The Planned Child,” these three poets confess their inner pain about matters that effect them and, they have created hits.

Roethke’s poem focuses on pain, with the use of the word “dolor.” It is about an office building that is so monotonous, that your individuality is taken away from you. The pencils are even saddened because they are “neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper-weight” (p 78, ). They are not used, not even to lie on a desk as a placeholder. The room is supposed to be an “immaculate public place” (p 78, 4), but there will always be an unseen film of dust. Roethke is comparing the people from the office to the dust on the walls by saying that the dust is “alive, more dangerous than silica,/sift, almost invisible” (p 78, 10-11). The dust shows more life in the preceding line than the people that are supposed to be working in the office building.

In Plath’s poem, she focuses more on her inner beasts. She splits herself up into a mirror and a real individual. The mirror is described to “swallow immediately/just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike” (p 1187, -) to show that you are who you are in front of a perfect reflection of your self. You are not allowed to be lied to in front of a mirror, because the mirror will project the exact duplicate, including feelings, thoughts, and even hatreds, of the “real” person. You “turn to those liars, the candles or the moon” (p 1187, 1) to help pacify your hidden demons because you can’t handle the truth the mirror projects to you. Plath uses the mirror as an object in which to allow herself to grow. She considers the mirror a “little god, four-cornered” (p 1187, 5) because that connection to God helps her know that she won’t be lied to; she has the belief that she can trust what she sees as the absolute truth. She finally accepts her formation from “a young girl, and in me an old woman/rises” (p 1187, 17-18) because she realizes that she is in the growing process everyone must partake in, as a part of life.

Olds’ storyline moves a girl hating her mother, to accepting that she was truly wanted. She resents the fact that her mother “made a chart of the month and put/her temperature on it, rising and falling/to know the day to make me” (p 84, 4-6) because she feels that she had to be planned to be wanted. She doesn’t understand the point of planning a human being. She would have rathered been “conceived in heat,/in haste, by mistake, in love, in sex” (p 84, 7-8) because to her it would have been more exciting. Not until a friend pointed out that she was wanted, did she finally accept that “not the moon, the sun, Orion/cartwheeling across the dark, not/the earth, the sea-none of it/was enough, for her, without me” (p 84, 1-). She considers finally that nothing from the preceding quote was enough to fill her mother’s passions of having a child of her own. Olds’ character finally realized that her mother had good intentions in planning her because it showed how much she was wanted.

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In these three stories, we are shown that confessing about troubling matters to the heart is a sort of therapy for the soul. It allows the heartache of a personal experience to help someone else shed light into his or her own problems. “Dolor” by Theodore Roethke, “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath, and “The Planned Child” by Sharon Olds helps other people because it shows that confessions are not all that immoral.

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