‘The Arrival of the Bee Box’ was written by Sylvia Plath after the end of the Second World War. The poem is about the arrival of a bee box, and the emotions that Plath has towards it, and the sounds emanating from it. The poem has a definite beginning, middle, and end, but has no logical sense of progression.
Plath’s stream of consciousness may be responsible for this.The poem is written in the first person, and is about someone who orders a wooden box that contains bees. Plath uses very unconventional language to describe the way the box looks to her. She may have used this unconventional language to describe the bee box, as the poem may not actually be a literal description of a bee box, but could be a metaphor for something else. An example of the unconventional language that she uses to describe the box is shown from the following quotation:’Square as a chair and almost too heavy to lift.I would say it was the coffin of a midgetOr a square babyWere there not such a din in it.
‘In the first stanza, she describes the box as being a midget’s coffin, or a coffin of a square baby, which are two very puzzling thoughts, which make the reader think hard about what Plath is actually trying to say. She also describes the box as being problematic, as she says that it is ‘almost too heavy to lift’. This could mean that the box actually is a real bee box, and is too heavy to lift in real life, or the sheer wei...
ght of the box could represent something completely different, such a serious problem that is frustrating her mind. The ‘din’ that is described within the box could be interpreted in two ways.The first way could literally be the sound of a swarm of bees that are in the box, and the second way is that the ‘din’ could represent the thoughts in her head. That particular word could have been used to describe the sound that was generated from within the box, as a ‘din’ is usually thought of as being an unpleasant noise, and the thoughts inside of her mind could be just that.
In the second stanza, Plath talks of how attracted she is to the box, as it is home to a hidden danger. Plath describes that the box is ‘locked’, which shows that whatever inside must be frightening, or dangerous in some way. The box being locked, and her attraction to seeing what is in it could have Biblical references. In the Bible, Adam is drawn into eating the forbidden fruit, which meant that he was cast out of the Garden of Eden. The fact that the fruit was forbidden made it more tempting for him to eat it, as there must have been something special about it. The locked box could be interpreted in the same way, as the fact that you can’t see what’s in there compels Plath into investigating it.
This obsessive compulsion is shown clearly in the following quotation:’The box is locked, it is dangerous.I have to live wit
it overnightAnd I can’t keep away from it.There are no windows, so I can’t see what is in there.There is only a little grid, no exit.’She describes the box as being ‘dangerous’, and then says that she’ll have to ‘live with it overnight’ shows that she is either frightened of the bees, or that she fears her own mind to such an extent, that she is scared to go to sleep.
She also describes that fact that there is ‘no exit’ from the box, which could mean that her thoughts are trapped in her head, and that she can’t escape the constant wave of thoughts that are plaguing her head.In the next stanza, she talks about how she tries to see what the inside of the box looks like, but she can’t as it is too ‘dark’. The darkness could mean that Plath had so many thoughts crawling though her mind, that she was unable to think properly. The darkness in her head is again described by her repetition of the words ‘dark’ and ‘black’.
Again, Plath uses unpleasant, and quite shocking vocabulary to try and instigate some sort of reaction from the reader, as she describes the contents of the box as being almost lethal, as she uses the word ‘swarmy’. This word makes the reader feel uncomfortable, and provokes thoughts of bees, infection, and disease, which are all rather disturbing. Examples of more disturbing, and thought-provoking vocabulary are shown in the following quotation:’I put my eye to the grid.It’s dark, dark,With the swarmy feeling of African handsMinute and shrunk for export,Black on black, angrily clambering.’Plath has used anthropomorphism to describe the bees that are trapped in the box, by using the words ‘African’ to describe their origin, and also the word ‘clambering’. She may have used the word ‘clambering’ for two reasons.
The first reason could be that she was trying to literally describe what the bees in the box are trying to do, which is to escape from the box, but the other possible reason is that it could be her thoughts that are trying to escape from their prison, which is her mind.Plath then questions herself over how she can let them (the bees or her thoughts) out. In the fourth stanza, she talks of what it is about the bees that disgruntles her the most. This is the sound that the bees generate, and the sound of multiple wings flapping, all out of time with one another to give a long, constant drone. However, this noise that she talks of could also just be a metaphor for the noise of the countless thoughts in her mind. In this stanza, she talks of how she can’t understand what she is thinking, as she is being bombarded with all of these thoughts.
She talks of how all the bees in the box are individuals, but they all have some common aims, and act in a unit when necessary. The evidence for her conflicting thoughts are shown in the following quotation:’How can I let them out?It is the noise that appals me most of all,The unintelligible syllables.It is
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