The Poem as Complex Blend: Conceptual Mappings of Metaphor in Sylvia Plath's 'the Applicant'
Language and Literature, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 25-44, 2005
20 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2009
Date Written: 2005
This article aims to show that Fauconnier and Turner's conceptual integration network or 'blending' theory can provide an integrated and coherent account of the cognitive mechanisms by which poetry is constructed and construed. Taking as its example Sylvia Plath's poem, 'The Applicant,' a poem already analyzed by Elena Semino from the perspectives of discourse, possible worlds, and schema theories, this article shows how Fauconnier and Turner's optimality constraints interact to provide a complex blending of conceptual metaphors in the poem that reveal the poet's own conflicted attitudes about marriage and the empty promises of a consumer society just four months before her suicide. Far from providing a new critical reading of the poem, the article makes explicit the implicit mappings that readers adopt in drawing conclusions about the poem that are shared by many literary critics.
Keywords: blending, cognitive poetics, conceptual metaphor, optimality constraints, Sylvia Plath
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