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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Themes

If we had to sum up "Lady Lazarus" in just one word, what do you think we'd say? The speaker is obsessed with death, both literal and figurative. She's attempted to commit suicide in the past, and she keeps playing out scenarios in her mind in which she's a victim of the Holocaust. Lady Lazarus is not in a good mental place in the poem, that's for sure.

Questions About Death

  1. Does suicide seem like a cowardly act in the poem? Or is it a way for Lady Lazarus to take control? How can you tell, either way?
  2. What is the effect of all of the corpse imagery in the poem?
  3. Do Lady L's struggles seem small next to the deaths of the six million Jews who were slaughtered during the Holocaust? In other words, are their deaths an effective measure of her own suffering, or is she way out of line?
  4. The poem ends with a resurrection; does this mean that death can be overcome in the poem? Does this make death not so scary to us?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In "Lady Lazarus," Plath portrays suicide as a powerful means for taking control over one's life, which makes it a bit less of a bummer. 

In "Lady Lazarus," death comes at the hands of others, and represents yet another way in which the speaker has absolutely no power in her life.

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