On Looking Into The Eyes Of A Demon Lover, Sylvia Plath, Analysis & Explanation

Overview: This poem, titled "On Looking Into The Eyes Of A Demon Lover," is a work by the renowned poet Sylvia Plath. It is a short, five-stanza poem that explores the transformative power of a demon's eyes. Plath vividly describes how looking into these eyes can turn even the most beautiful of women into toads and invert the world around them. The poem ends on a note of ambiguity, as the speaker seeks her own image in the demon's eyes, only to find the reflection of the goddess Venus.

Text of the Poem

Here are two pupils
whose moons of black
transform to cripples
all who look:

each lovely lady
who peers inside
take on the body
of a toad.

Within these mirrors
the world inverts:
the fond admirer's
burning darts

turn back to injure
the thrusting hand
and inflame to danger
the scarlet wound.

I sought my image
in the scorching glass,
for what fire could damage
a witch's face?

So I stared in that furnace
where beauties char
but found radiant Venus
reflected there.

Critical Analysis

"On Looking Into The Eyes Of A Demon Lover" by Sylvia Plath is a complex and multi-layered poem that explores themes of love, identity, and the nature of perception. Plath uses powerful and evocative imagery to create a sense of tension and unease, while also exploring the transformative power of love.

The poem is structured in four stanzas, each with four lines. The first two lines of each stanza introduce a metaphorical image, while the second two lines develop that image further. The first two stanzas focus on the transformation of women who gaze into the eyes of the demon lover, while the third stanza shifts the focus to the lover himself. The final stanza brings the poem full circle, as the speaker gazes into a mirror and discovers her own transformation.

Throughout the poem, Plath uses vivid and striking imagery to create a sense of unease and tension. The metaphor of the "pupils/whose moons of black/transform to cripples/all who look" is particularly powerful, suggesting that the very act of looking at the demon lover is itself a transformative experience that can cripple the viewer.

The poem also explores the nature of perception and identity. The line "the world inverts" suggests that the very act of looking into the demon lover's eyes can fundamentally alter one's sense of self and one's relationship to the world. Similarly, the final stanza suggests that the speaker's own identity is not fixed, but is instead subject to change and transformation based on the way she is perceived by others.

In terms of style, Plath's use of imagery and metaphor is particularly notable. The poem is filled with rich and evocative descriptions that help to create a vivid and immersive experience for the reader. Additionally, the poem's tight and structured form creates a sense of tension and constraint that mirrors the themes of the poem itself.

Stanza-wise Explanation

Here are two pupils 
whose moons of black 
transform to cripples 
all who look:

The first stanza introduces the idea of two pupils, which are associated with the eyes of a demon lover. These pupils have a transformative power, turning anyone who looks into them into a "cripple."

each lovely lady 
who peers inside 
take on the body 
of a toad.

The second stanza further elaborates on the transformative power of the demon lover's eyes. Any "lovely lady" who gazes into them takes on the body of a toad, which suggests a hideous and repulsive transformation.

Within these mirrors 
the world inverts: 
the fond admirer's 
burning darts

The third stanza introduces the idea of mirrors and how they reflect the inverted world. The "fond admirer's burning darts" are reversed and turned against the admirer, causing injury and pain.

turn back to injure 
the thrusting hand 
and inflame to danger 
the scarlet wound.

The fourth stanza continues to describe the effect of the demon lover's gaze. The "burning darts" are now turned back to injure the hand that originally launched them. This causes a "scarlet wound" that becomes inflamed with danger.

I sought my image 
in the scorching glass, 
for what fire could damage 
a witch's face?

The fifth stanza reveals that the speaker herself sought her image in the demon lover's eyes. She wants to see what the transformative power of the gaze would do to her "witch's face."

So I stared in that furnace 
where beauties char 
but found radiant Venus 
reflected there.

The final stanza describes the speaker's gaze into the demon lover's eyes. Despite the transformative power described earlier in the poem, the speaker sees herself reflected as "radiant Venus." This could suggest that the speaker is not afraid of the demon lover's power, or that she sees something different in the demon lover's eyes than what is suggested by the earlier stanzas.
Related Posts

Post a Comment

Cookie Consent
We serve cookies on this site to analyze traffic, remember your preferences, and optimize your experience.
Oops!
It seems there is something wrong with your internet connection. Please connect to the internet and start browsing again.
AdBlock Detected!
We have detected that you are using adblocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website, we request you to whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.
Site is Blocked
Sorry! This site is not available in your country.