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The Colossus

The Colossus

by Sylvia Plath

Duty Theme

"The Colossus" uses the image of a caretaker who spends her days dutifully cleaning and trying to put together a giant shattered statue. Though the task is impossible, and impossibly pointless, she gets up every morning to do it anyway. Sure, she kind of resents the way her duties trap her, but still she can't seem to break away—even though no one seems to holding her there but herself. Now how does your worst job compare to this?

Questions About Duty

  1. What duties does the speaker feel the need to perform every day?
  2. How many of the speaker's responsibilities were placed on her by others, and how many did she assign herself?
  3. What might the speaker's caretaking chores symbolize? Why do you think so?

Chew on This

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

The poem uses the archetype of the dutiful caretaker as a metaphor for the speaker's enslavement to the mental scars left from her father's death. Worst boss ever.

The speaker seems both resentful of and resigned to her duties. Whatevs.

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