This poem was written by the American poet Sylvia plath when she was in the Smith college. This poem is an outcry of a lonely woman who hid a child within herself, the child who was never be able to enjoy her childhood because of her father’s death at the time when she was only six years old. And now she was in a college which was far away from her home and her remaining family that was her mother. It seems that plath for a certain time tried to control her emotions, her pain but ultimately she was a delicate fragile girl, left alone in this harsh world without any one besides her to carry on her journey of life. So she fixed her mind to leave the world because by that time she realized that there would not be any savior who would come to bring her back to the past blissful pre-lapsarian state of her life- her life before her father died.
This poem was written in 1951 ad was first published in 1953 edition of Mademoiselle, sometime before her first suicide attempt by taking over-doze of sleeping pills. If we concentrate on her biographical background then it will be clear to us that why she wrote this poem. The ‘love’ that has been referred to here is not the love she felt for any person as she met her would be husband Ted Hughes in 1953 while this poem was written two years before this meeting. So, what is the love this ‘Mad Girl’ is talking about?well, I think it is the love for happiness, for a normal life that any girl of her age could long for. She did not desire for more. The line ‘I should have loved a thunderbird instead’ is the proof of the fact that she was not behind materialistic happiness as probably here the ‘thunderbird’ she was talking about was the thunderbird sports car that people used to put away for the Winter but brought them back in the Spring again. Apart from this the other kind of love she referred to was the love or longing to have a lover who could satisfy her physical as well as mental desires and who could ‘kissed’ her ‘quite insane’. Then comes the love that she was unfortunate to have, the filial love. She sighed for familial love and especially for the fatherly love which she was deprived of as her father left her and the world when he was mostly needed by her. After this ghastly experience she turned to be an atheist who stopped caring at all for the toppling of God from the sky or for hell’s faded ‘fires’. No significance of religious good or bad- God or Satan had any effect on her. When she said ‘I fancied you’d return the way you said/ but I grow old and forgot your name’ maybe she referred to her father whose return she expected when she was a child because at that time little Plath did not realize what death means. But appearing into the stage of adolescence those illusions of her became shattered and she realized that she was alone to fight with the world and with her own mental dilemmas. Here it can also be the love for a life she always wished to have- a life she fancied so far. But gradually her dreams faded away.
‘I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead’ and ‘I think I made you up inside my head’, these lines are repeated several times in this poem between which the repetition of the first line makes it clear that she was preparing herself for attempting suicide. She realized that there is nothing in her life or in any other’s life that they can control except their own body. So only the idea of suicide seemed loyal and soothing to her as she knew that if she would shut her eyes by committing suicide then her body would not betray her and thus at last she would be succeeding in murdering herself the way she fancied. The second repeated line which is always in first bracket may be because it is the line she used to repetitively murmuring to herself – an act that normally the people with mental illness do. The ‘you’ in this line is the happy, blissful life she imagined but by that time she realized that there was no fairy tale-like-life awaiting her. Lastly, the title of this poem has double meanings. ‘Mad Girl’ here can mean that the desperate longing of Plath for getting a happy life which made her crazy or it can also refer to the mental health of her as she was suffering from mental depression and was mentally ill when she wtote this poem.
The poem is written in Villanelle poetic form. There is mainly Iambic Pentameter followed by the poet throughout the poem. The rhyme scheme of this poem is aba,aba,aba,aba,aba,abaa.
Keywords – Mad Girl’s Love Song analysis (3.2)