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Next line portrays that she must have got married on the day that her husband died if she had ripped her wedding clothes from her body. This stanza provides the reader with physicality by the use of the words “ripped”, “howled”, “shrieked”, “clawed”, “retched” etc. – onomatopoeic – portray a violent narrator. “howled”, “clawed” – anthropomorphic. Repetition – “over and over”, “dead, dead”. – symbolise that she thought of him repeatedly. This stanza displays as her almost hating him because he died. Sentence Structure – Short sentence to start – illustrates immediacy.
Long sentence follows – symbolising how long she has grieved over the one she had lost – how long the process of recovery had been. Language – emotional, aggressive, sinister, chilling. Overall tone – depressing, graphic/gruesome. Themes – death, sorrow, aftermath. Stanza 2 Remains in past tense. “Gutted” – associated with gutting fish – unpleasant – symbolising destruction of her home. Colour change from “white” to “dark” – conveys “white” as being before he died (symbol of purity, holiness), and “dark” as the world she is in now that he is gone (symbol of evil, desperation)
Symbolism of isolation – “Single cot” (relates to Mrs Quasimodo i.
e. “Single silver fish”), “widow”, “one empty glove”, “half” – sense of her feeling incomplete. “White femur”– bones – “dust” – ashes – relates to the fact that her husband is now reduced to this because he is dead. “Stuffed dark suits into black bags” – implies a murder? Could reveal her suicidal nature – her husband’s death had, inevitably, driven her to her own death. “noosed the double knot of the tie round my bare neck” – the only way she can dispel the isolation is to kill herself.
“double” – sense of being whole again. Sense that her grieving continues. bare neck” refers back to the 1st stanza where she had stripped herself of her clothes. Sentence Structure – Short, simplistic, reflecting a child’s dialect i. e. “
Gone home” Language – unemotional – could symbolise her method of recuperation Overall tone – graphic, angry, vengeful, remorseful Themes – neglect, isolation, suicide Stanza 3 Continues on from second stanza. Religious reference – “gaunt nun” – reference to her imposed celibacy (duty to stay faithful to her dead husband). “Stations of Bereavement” – relates to Stations of the Cross – symbolising that she, like Jesus, has to struggle. icon of my face” relates to statues and figures in churches – also implies that her facial expression remains the same since the day of her husband’s death. “touching herself” – conveys that the only pleasure she is able to achieve would be by touching herself. Following lines imply that these were the only memories that she had of him i. e. he “dwindled” away. Her only memories of him were of his illness. “shrunk to the size of a snapshot” – modernisation – a picture remains only a memory, as had Mrs Lazarus’s husband. Sentence Structure – Long – broken with commas – symbolises constant bereavement
Language – religious, frustrated yet sorrowful, modern Overall tone – frustrated, resentful Themes – celibacy, religion Stanza 4 Continues from third stanza with repletion of “going” – displays the fact that she does not feel as though he is gone yet. Tangible memories of Lazarus i. e. the hair fallen from his head, his scent – both vanishing – “the last hair”, “his scent went”. Imagery of their disappearing marriage – no value, no meaning. “ring” – supposed to symbolise eternal love – conventional meaning is diminished in this case.
He is no longer worth anything to her as he is now only a “small zero”. Sentence Structure – Becoming shorter as she begins to forget about him. She is beginning to dismiss him from her life. Language – dismissive, unemotional Overall tone – guilt-free, disgusted Themes – independence Stanza 5 “Then he was gone” – simplistic – sense of immediacy, perhaps unexpected – he exists no more. “legend” – forgotten – he became just words – “language”. “schoolteacher” – perhaps he had taught her something in her life? “man’s strength” – protection But I was faithful for as long as it took” – as long as what took? Perhaps premeditated murder? Religious reference “faithful” – to whom? God? Lazarus? “Until he was a memory” – it took quite a while for her to come to terms with everything – perhaps she was trying to remain celibate? Sentence Structure – varied length – symbolise the normality of her life now. Language – settled (i. e. no anger, no strong emotion) Overall tone – defensive – “But I was faithful for as long as it took” Themes – deceit Stanza 6 Setting of scene – “field”, “moon” – night time Personification of atmosphere – “fine air”
Observing and admiring landscape. “shouting” – disruption of new “healed” life. Were the men coming for her? Why were they shouting? Sentence Structure – Long, flows – illustrate the calm serenity of her current life – until the interruption of shouting men. Language – calm, descriptive Overall tone – serene Themes – admiration of the simple things in life Stanza 7 Continues from stanza 6. Images of people chasing her. Building up of tension – repetition of “I knew”. Personification of light – “sly” – even the light had betrayed her – labelled her as the wife of an ill man. shrill eyes” – piercing into her – evil – undeserved – highlights that the community had a prejudice of her husband because of his illness. Overwhelmed by crowds of people – feels consumed by the “hot tang” and the “hands bearing” her. Sentence Structure – varied. Broken with commas to illustrate the break in her normality. Language – anxious
Overall tone – fearful Themes – betrayal Stanza 8 Illustrates the resurrection of her husband. “He lived” – shock, disbelief. “the horror on his face” – even he was terrified of her situation. She cannot escape the memory of him, no matter how far away he may seem. saw”, “heard”, “breathed” – use of the senses – immediacy – “rotting”. This stanza could be her mind revisiting the memory of Lazarus’s dead body. This could symbolise her reuniting with him – her escape from isolation. From beyond the grave, Lazarus maintains control over Mrs Lazarus – she is unable to rid him from her mind – eternally married to him – so she must be faithful. Does love defy death? Sentence Structure – Long – symbolise the return of bereavement. Language – graphic/gruesome – to describe disfigured body/their love Overall tone – depressing, horrific
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