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BLUEBEARD, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography


The poem "Bluebeard" by Sylvia Plath unfolds as a terse yet impactful narrative revolving around the decision of a woman to break free from a deeply unsettling relationship. The text is rooted in the Bluebeard myth, a tale about a violent and secretive man who gives his wife a key to a forbidden room. When she disobeys his order not to enter it, she discovers the murdered bodies of his previous wives. Utilizing this myth, Plath delves into the complex psychodynamics of power, vulnerability, and self-discovery.

The poem opens with a decisive, "I am sending back the key," which underscores the narrator's agency in ending a relationship that has taken an emotional toll. The repetition of this line thrice within the eight-line poem serves as a refrain that not only emphasizes her decision but also marks the different stages of her emotional journey. The key symbolizes her access to "Bluebeard's study," a metaphorical space of intimacy and vulnerability. However, it's clear that this intimacy comes at the cost of personal degradation, as evidenced by the lines, "because he would make love to me / I am sending back the key."

The phrase "in his eye's darkroom" conjures up an image of Bluebeard as a voyeuristic figure, capturing and examining the vulnerabilities of his partner. The "darkroom," traditionally a space where photographs are developed, becomes a haunting metaphor for the invasive scrutiny she feels under his gaze. This is reinforced by the next line, "my X-rayed heart, dissected body," which highlights how emotionally and perhaps even physically invasive the relationship has been.

The word "X-rayed" connotes a penetration beyond surface-level interactions into the realm of the deeply personal and private. Bluebeard's study isn't just a physical or emotional space but a metaphorical domain where the speaker feels scrutinized, dissected, and ultimately diminished. The concept of the "dissected body" bears the implication that this is not a relationship of equals; rather, she has been reduced to an object of analysis, perhaps even a specimen in a pathological study.

By sending back the key, the speaker reclaims her autonomy and removes herself from a space where she has been objectified and reduced to her elemental parts. The act becomes a radical assertion of self, a refusal to be confined by a relationship that offers nothing but a toxic form of love. It serves as a symbolic closure to a chapter in her life, the ramifications of which she has understood all too well.

The rhyme scheme in Sylvia Plath's "Bluebeard" is ABaAabAB, making it a variation of the traditional villanelle form. The repetitive rhyme scheme serves to reinforce the cyclical, almost ritualistic, nature of the relationship depicted in the poem, echoing the emotional entanglements that the narrator feels. The rhyming of "key" and "study" in the lines "I am sending back the key" and "that let me into bluebeard's study" serves as a refrain that bookends the poem, capturing the essence of the narrator's decision to leave. Overall, ghe rhyme scheme in "Bluebeard" is not just an aesthetic choice but a structural device that intensifies the poem's themes. It reinforces the cyclical nature of emotional entrapment while also highlighting the narrator's courageous decision to break free. The very act of sending back the key becomes even more significant within this tightly woven structure, serving as a decisive break in both the narrative and the rhyme, enabling the speaker to regain her autonomy.

"Bluebeard" may be brief, but it is saturated with emotional and psychological depth. It stands as a testament to the intricate and sometimes sinister dynamics that can lurk within relationships. It also resonates as an anthem of empowerment, capturing a moment where the speaker seizes control of her own narrative, turning her back on a partnership that had reduced her to a mere subject of study and scrutiny.


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