Analysis of Ariel

Ariel is the name of the highly regarded posthumous volume composed by Silvia Plath and published on her behalf by her ex-husband Ted Hughes. It is also the name of the 13th poem in the series which is regarded as one of Plath’s most complicated and ambiguous texts.  
The poem begins in the quiet hours of darkness before dawn. “Stasis in darkness”. The colours change from black to blue, as the morning progresses. Symbolism is used to emphasis the power of the horse before the ride and causes a climatic tone to stir with the comparison of the horse, to a lion “God lioness”. The use of the pronoun, we, emphasises that the rider and horse are one. “How we grow” Momentum is built as the imagery quickens, driven forwards by the successful enjambment “the furrow splits and passes”. The clever slur “Niger eye” further develops the imagery and builds extra speed, causing the responder to visualise the wild passion in the horse’s eyes. The effective stream of consciousness driven forwards by the alliteration of the B’s, that represent the depth of the blackberry juice, allow for a visual commentary, of the emotions she encounters and scenery flashing by. “Black sweet blood mouthfuls”. The pace is accelerated through the emotive sentence “hauls me through the air”, as though the rider has no choice but to cling for her life. The successful rhyming pattern, tying the images together.   ‘Hair and air’
At this point in the poem a significant change occurs signalled by a variation in tone and technique. From this point the poem moves beyond the literal meaning into something which partakes of mystery and creates a metaphorical feeling. The responder is stuck with the image of white Godiva a woman who rode naked through her city to save its people from taxes. This powerful illustration strengthens the emotion of freedom, radiating from the ride. It is as though the protagonist is freeing herself of all worldly cares. “White Godiva, I unpeel – Dead hands, dead stringencies”. The...