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English Comparison Essay

‘Superman and Paula brown’s new snowsuit’ by Sylvia Plath is set in the Boston area of New England and it’s possible that Plath based it on her own childhood as there are some parallels in the details she mentions. It is also about a specific time, sometime between 1939 and 1945, as it mentions the American conflict with Japan.

The story has the central theme of the difficulty of growing up. Sylvia Plath presents the girl’s experiences as being about injustice, unfairness and the feeling that the world is not good, but evil. War and the conflict between individuals are presented as being equally important and destructive, war is a key part of the life of the children just as much as childish feuds are.

Throughout the story Sylvia Plath has used colour imagery to represent the child’s feelings.

Sylvia Plath uses the image of light to show what the girl feels about her home. ‘A secure web of light.’ It isn’t threatening; it is safe – at the moment. Significantly, the dining room window gives only a reflection of the room, so a careful reader might begin to think that the feeling of safety is an illusion.

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Whilst the girl and her family are eating dinner someone comes to tell her mother that she has deliberately spoilt Paula’s snowsuit. Again, the image of ‘a cold draught’ (l. 151) suggests that this is frightening and unwelcome news. Paula of course denies that it was deliberate, but her Uncle Frank and her Mother don’t believe her and even she sounds to herself as though she’s not telling the truth.

Darkness is a key image from the end of the story that reinforces the child’s feeling of loneliness and sadness as she lies alone in her room. Uncle Frank’s face is ‘featureless’ in the shadows and the story concludes with a vivid image of a ‘black shadow’ engulfing the whole world.

The story links with ‘Snowdrops’ (page 89): both stories use the perspective of a child to describe events and do not venture into the consciousness of the grown ups. Both stories look at the darker side of life and show the realisation of a child that happiness and goodness are necessarily predominant in life. The friendships between children are also important themes in both stories.

In this story, the vivdness and colourfulness of youth is personified by the lights, as if a beacon of hope in the troubled society that the children revel in.”The lights of boston that blazed and blinked far off across the darkening water.” (Line 8) This metaphor, shows the corrupt and the evil that does occur in the world by “darkening water”, the fact that it is “darkening” shows the continuous acts of crime and injust always happening. However, with the sheer optimism of children and how they put immediate emphasis on the good, with their fantasy view of life the “blazed and blinked” show how they have this young perception that good will always overrule evil, which is not the case in reality.

Anaylsis of key themes.

An example of one the themes in motion would be from the realisation theme which seems to run parallel to the plot.

“Where I knelt over the toilet bowl and vomited up the cake

and ice cream.” (Line 96)

This shows the sheer rejection of youth, as she realises that everything that she has believed and imagined has been a true fa�ade, that her hero won’t come swooping down to the save the day. The phrase “cake and ice-cream” is mainly associated with the happy memories of youth, whereas in this case it seems that because of the shocking image that she has just seen, she needs to reject everything she knows, everything she has imagined and dreamt of, and get in touch with the real world that contains despair, disappointment and ultimately evil.This shows a shocking maturity to the narrator.

Analysis of the key characters.

The key characters in this story is the narrator, as from

a first person recount we get to know her feelings and her

thoughts.Which creates a strong connection between thee

audience and the character.

“I lay there alone feeling the black shadow creeping up the

underside of the world like a flood tide.” (Line 180-1)

This demonstrates how lonely the narrator now feels, that she has lost her children perception on life, the word “black” is a stark contrast to the beautiful lights that she relied on to guide her, it shows how her optimistic outlook on life is gone, after betrayal and seeing the frightening images of the real world. The word “creeping” illustrates how this new view of life crept up in a sinister and stole her innocence. This gives us a perfect passageway into the narrators most inner depth feelings, by the use of metaphors that demonstrate how despondent and alone she feels.

‘Snowdrops’ is set in rural Wales, but this is only hinted at and is not a key theme to the story. It opens with a description of family life and the adult narrator focuses on the world of a little boy who remains nameless throughout the story. The snowdrops, which provide a key image throughout the story, are mentioned in the first sentence.

They are important at the end of the story as well and a reader can see that this is a small child at the centre of the story, whose attention is caught by the simple activity of looking at these common flowers. The description of a family breakfast shows a child who is observant and who sees his world ‘with wonder’. Symbolically, the family home is described as warm, in contrast with the cold world outside.

This story is about childhood. It tries to show how a child sees their world and also how different the world of adults is. It is also about how the realities of life encroach on their world and taint it with sadness. It also looks at the relationships between adults and children, especially the adults who are closest to children, their parents and their teachers. This is the only story in the Anthology that looks at the role of teachers and it gives a sympathetic presentation of how their job can sometimes be hard, when the personal and the professional clash.

The story also shows how parents strive to protect their children from the harsh realities of life. ‘Snowdrops’ has parallels with ‘Superman and Paula Brown’s New Snowsuit’, in that both stories show children learning a harsh fact of life. Both stories are also about young children and focus exclusively on how they see the world. Some of the symbolism of colour, especially black, and of cold is common to these two stories.

The snowdrops symbolise people, who endure difficulties and sadness, like the teacher endures bereavement. The children do not understand Miss Webster’s crying at the end of the story, but they are frightened by it. It is probably their first introduction to the experience of grief, but it won’t be their last. It is a sad ending to the story, as the boy experiences fear and happiness at the same time. It is in poignant contrast to the happy start to the story.

The story also shows how parents strive to protect their children from the harsh realities of life. ‘Snowdrops’ has parallels with ‘Superman and Paula Brown’s New Snowsuit’, in that both stories show children learning a harsh fact of life. Both stories are also about young children and focus exclusively on how they see the world. Some of the symbolism of colour, especially black, and of cold is common to these two stories.

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English Comparison. (2017, Nov 09). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/english-comparison-essay

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