What’s Up With the Title?
Plath doesn't exactly throw us for a loop on this one. She calls this poem "Tulips" because they are the central, recurring image in the poem – just a dozen red tulips. That's a pretty normal get-well present to have lying around a hospital room, but not in this poem. What makes Plath such a great poet is that she takes this typical image and makes it weird, scary, threatening, and totally awesome. Even though they're just cut flowers, they become almost like characters in this poem, harassing our speaker with their insistent redness. So the tulips of the title are much more than just tulips; they take on a life of their own. They're the antagonist of the poem, and they won't leave our speaker alone. See "Symbols" for more on this discussion.