An Explication of "Tulips" by Sylvia Plath.

Essay by badballUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 2005

download word file, 2 pages 5.0

Downloaded 34 times

"Tulips", a poem by Sylvia Plath, is about Sylvia Plath's experience in a hospital after she had tried to commit suicide. The poem illustrates just how depressed the author was at the time and how the slightest initiative of happiness was distracting to her.

My initial reaction to Plath's poem "Tulips" was rather different from what it had meant to me afterwards. At first, I believed the poem might have been about perhaps some flowers that made Sylvia Plath happy, but that turned out to be an irony.

Plath begins the poem by pointing out the tulips, and how they do not belong in her room because everything else is plain and quite. Plath talks about the nurses taking care of her: "My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water" (15). Plath talks about how she has failed to die and is still holding on to her sense of self, "I have let things slip a thirty-years-old cargo boat stubbornly hanging on to my name and address."


Plath talks about her stay at the hospital. She enjoys the nothingness and tranquility of her room which is symbolized by the color white and how the tulips are bothering her with their red color and smell. The red color of the tulips in the poem symbolizes pain, contrasting with the white. She seems to imply that she was in fact happy in her quite plain room before the tulips arrived and broke her peacefulness: "Before they came the air was calm enough, Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss. Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise." (50/51/52)

Plath's attitude in the poem towards the nurses seems as if they are irrelevant (11/12). Her attitude towards her...