Study Guide

Tulips Suffering

By Sylvia Plath

Suffering

And my history to the anesthetist and my body to surgeons. (7)

The pain of surgery is still fresh in our speaker's mind. But is it just the surgery that's caused her pain and taken her identity, or is it something else entirely?

Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks. (21)

Wow, that's not exactly a nice way to describe her loved ones' smiles. Now we know for sure that her pain goes much deeper than physical pain. Anyone who compares smiles to painful hooks has got some serious troubles.

The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me. (36)

Okay here's a question: if these tulips are bothering her so much, why doesn't she just have a nurse throw them away?

Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds. (39)

This is creepy, huh? The red tulips are somehow having a little chat with her wound. But what wound is she talking about here: the incision from surgery, or some kind of deeper, emotional wound?

Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their color, (41)

The tulips are starting to totally freak her out. And you know what? They kind of freak us out, too. In shocking moments like this, the poem does a pretty good job of forcing us to share the speaker's pain and fear.

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