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Sylvia Plath and Spirited Away Essay

The inner journey is a metaphysical process in which an individual travels into their own psyche often resulting in form of self realization. Although the journey is not physical, an inner journey is a powerful tool in which one can enhance their knowledge of the world and their own human nature, commonly encountering imaginative obstacles which assist in the individual’s self-realization. The texts that I will use to illustrate the inner journeys are “You’re” and “A Birthday Present” by Sylvia Plath and The animated film “Spirited Away” directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

Sylvia Plath utilizes the inner journey as a way to explore aspects of her life through the medium of poetry. Her poem “You’re” explores the emotional journey of an expecting mother, using poetic techniques to highlight the joys and mysteries of the baby in the womb, In contrast to Sylvia Plath’s poem “A Birthday Present” which explores the persona’s fear of death, despite desperation to end ones life, effectively using techniques to highlight the fear and want for death.

Comparatively Hayao Miyazaki utilizes his film “Spirited Away” to demonstrate the protagonist’s, Chihro journey to develops and overcome circumstances to become a self-sufficient and self-reflective girl, by emphasizing the development with camera techniques and layout of particular scenes. These texts demonstrate the importance of inner journeys, demonstrating how journeys result in knowledge of their own nature and the world around them.

Plath’s poem “You’re” conveys, a deep sense of joy and excitement, as a mother goes through the emotional journey, going through the delight of bearing a child, while still going through the mysterious and vagueness of the child referencing it to the furthest place imagined, for the persona “farther off than Australia”. Plath uses a range of techniques to express the joy of bearing a child and the warm comfort of it being “wrapped up in yourself like a spool”, the simile reinforces the idea of always being safe and loved, as well as the metaphor “Snug as a bud” creating the sense of the small baby being safe.

It can also be lively and playful “Jumpy as a Mexican bean” all the techniques restate that the journey so far is positive and delightful and how she continues to try to understand her coming child with similes “like a sprat in a pickle jug”. However the mother experiences the mysteries and vagueness of the unborn child, noting her difficulty in describing it, she relies on terms from the world she knows for example “gilled like a fish” comparing it to a fish as it is all wrinkled and complex, as well as describing it as a “travelled prawn” and “moon skulled”, we understand the difficulty of understanding how it looks.

The mother continues to try describing and understand the child she is about to have using the metaphor “vague as fog” to show how mysterious and undefined the child is, yet it is still eagerly anticipated and “looked for like mail” showing no matter what, the mother is overcome by joy on having the child. The Mother ventures through all these emotions, grasping to understand the unborn child, using similes and metaphors to figure out how the child may be and reflecting upon the joy of it all.

Recognizing the uniqueness of the child arriving with its “own face”. Comparatively Sylvia Plath’s “A Birthday Present” deals with the persona inner battle of to decide to live on. “A birthday Present” is an extended metaphor, symbolizing death, allowing the audience to understand the shocking irony of the poem and the persona’s real want of what is “behind this veil”.

However the fear of death is the only obstacle stopping the persona from killing themselves. The inner journey which is present in this poem is of the personas hesitation to kill herself she “would not mind if it were bones, or a pearl button” demonstrating her want for something tangible, Questioning her inner self if she actually wants it “can you not give it to me? ” the change of voice to reassure herself.

Tempting and luring her inner self to choose death with the continuous repetition of “let down the veil, the veil, the veil”. Ultimately the persona is fearful of death stating “You are terrified” confirming to herself that she is unsure reinforced by the simile “shimmering like curtains” reflecting the unstable curtains as her uncertainty. However her pessimistic outlook upon life and repetitious suppression of adhering to rules, to rules, to rules” gives her the strength to take her life. Her cynical tone “My god what a laugh” gives her courage to the view the world pessimistically and take her life, as well as continuously referring her life with little importance “I will only take it and go aside quietly”, “A marvel to your grandchildren … it is not so” stating that no one will care after she is gone.

The persona is now definite about taking her life and that “only you can give it to me”, representing now that behind the veil is death and how she asks for a quick death “you will not hear me opening it”. And that there is nothing left to fear as “the universe slide[s] from my side”, showing that through the inner journey the persona was able to understand the pessimistic world around her and how utilizing repetition, rhetorical questions and cynical tone to find the courage to no longer fear death.

Comparatively “Spirited Away” is both a mental and physical journey to save her parents, which results in the growth and self-realization of Chihiro’s true self, facing challenges that allow Chihiro to learn lessons such as patience and understanding to survive and return home, with important scenes and symbolic items throughout the film to represent Chihiro’s growth. Chihiro was bought up in materialistic and idle world “don’t worry, you’ve got Daddy here. He’s got credit cards and cash” as well shown when Chihiro lying on the backseat, which is in shocking transition to when Chihiro has to work for herself in the bath house.

At first she works ineffectively with other workers commenting “get out of the way”, representing her incompatibility and unwelcomed arrival, however she slowly progresses and gradually through the determination to save her parents becomes better, with the scene of washing of the stink spirit determining her capabilities to grow and become accepted, with rejoicing music and cheers from fellow workers, showing a close up a shot of Chihiro showing a sense a achievement and happiness, demonstrating Chihiro’s growth of maturity through working at the bath house.

In comparison we learn Chihiro is a stoic young girl fearful of changes, shown in the first scene when her flowers start to die representing her old life wilting away. Yubaba takes away Chihiro’s name, she appears completely frightened, whimpering and shaking in a close up shot when Yubaba, and only takes the job to survive. Chihro clings desperately to her old self shown crying and curling up in a ball, with classical music playing in the background emphasizing the scene.

Yet during her time as Sen her true self develops, showing unconditional compassion and kindness to several of the bathhouse inhabitants, especially Haku. One particular scene when Sen climbs the bathhouse to reach Haku, demonstrates her growth to protect Haku, even when endangering her life. Using the low angle camera shot to add to the enormity of seeing Chihiro on the roof tying her clothes, to risk her life to save Haku, portraying Chihiro’s growth to not only face her fears, but do so for others.

She develops to also be able to stand up to Yubaba, in the final test, a high angle long shot, shows Chihiro striding confidently across the bridge as well as a close up of Chihiro’s determined face while facing Yubaba, depicting Chihiro no longer a scared frightened girl that she used to be. In “Spirited Away” Chihiro goes on a inner journey, which develops her from the immature, fearful child to the self-sufficient and self-reflective young girl, portrayed by the camera angles and shots and symbolism.


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