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By Angat Vora and Joanna Hebel

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1 By Angat Vora and Joanna Hebel
Sylvia Plath’s “Mushrooms” By Angat Vora and Joanna Hebel

2 Overnight, very Whitely, discreetly, Very quietly Our toes, our noses Take hold on the loam, Acquire the air. Nobody sees us, Stops us, betrays us; The small grains make room. Soft fists insist on Heaving the needles, The leafy bedding, Even the paving. Our hammers, our rams, Earless and eyeless, Perfectly voiceless, Widen the crannies, Shoulder through holes. We Diet on water, On crumbs of shadow, Bland-mannered, asking Little or nothing. So many of us! We are shelves, we are Tables, we are meek, We are edible, Nudgers and shovers In spite of ourselves. Our kind multiplies: We shall by morning Inherit the earth. Our foot's in the door.

3 Meaning of the poem At first glance, the reader can see that this poem is about the growth of mushrooms in the wild. Looking at the background of this poem, it was written in In the early 60s the women’s liberation movement took place. Thus, we derive a meaning from this poem, that the growth of the mushroom, in this poem, represents the early stages of the women’s liberation movement.


5 Structure Diet on water. Shoulder through holes. We
Each stanza in the poem has 3 lines. It resembles closely to the haiku, the Japanese poem, as it consists of 3 unrhymed lines, 5 syllables and is used to describe nature. Shoulder through holes. We Diet on water. Plath starts the next sentence on the previous stanza to follow a set pattern of 5 syllables per line.

6 Use of personal pronouns
There is a use of personal pronouns in this poem, which represent the mushrooms. Interpreting this poem, we derive the use of personal pronouns, such as ‘us’ and ‘we’ to represent the women in the women’s liberation movement. So many of us!

7 Metaphors Take hold on the loam.
The whole poem is a metaphor, as it indirectly describes women’s liberation movement, which is represented by the process of the growth of the mushroom. Take hold on the loam. Loam means rich soil containing clay and decayed leaves. This is perfect soil condition for mushrooms to grow in. In context of women’s liberation movement, this means the women are going to take hold of the perfect conditions to activate this movement.

8 The small grains make room.
Nobody sees us, Stops us, betrays us; The small grains make room. Literal meaning is that nobody sees or stops the mushrooms growing. In context of the women’s liberation movement, at that time no one imagined or saw this coming as everyone believed that women are not capable to create a movement that would work. Women found the right time and acted swiftly, so this actually happened.

9 Heaving the needles Soft fists insist on
Plath uses personification to describe the mushrooms. These human like characteristics, give the impression that she talks about the women and not mushrooms. These are two contrasting words as soft means something gentle and delicate, while fists is a symbol of a fight and power. The word soft is associated with women as they are fragile and they can not manage with obstacles. Heaving refers to lifting up heavy things. This represent the difficulties that women had to deal with, while they wanted to get the right to speak up.

10 Our hammers, our rams Plath uses the contradiction to describe women. She talks how women use hammers and rams, which are normally associated with men’s object. This shows that women are strong and can deal with all obstacles.

11 Stereotypes On crumbs of shadow Tables, we are meek
In the poem she shows that women’s place is in the house, away from the politics. On crumbs of shadow Plath shows the way of thinking at that time. Women could not have their opinion and they were supposed to stay in the kitchen and work at home. We are shelves, we are Tables, we are meek Shadow means that women were hidden in shadow of men and did not have rights to speak up. Meek means quiet and obedient, modest, or someone who stays away. This describes the expectations men had for women. She says that they are shelves and tables, which are two objects associated with the kitchen, the place in which women were supposed to be.

12 Nudgers and shovers Sylvia Plath was well known for her feminism. Nudgers and shovers describe the men who were against the women liberation movement as they believed that women should stay at home.

13 Our kind multiplies: We shall by morning Inherit the earth.
Sylvia Plath wants to break this stereotype and show everyone that women have rights to be free as well. It is mostly shown in two last stanzas. Our kind multiplies: We shall by morning Inherit the earth. Just like mushrooms can grow over the night, same with the women liberation movement – there are so many supporters that in a very short period of time, they can recover and spread all over the world.

14 Our foot's in the door This ending shows that they have made it and now they have crossed the point and there is no way for the men to stop them.

15 Bibliography

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