Marital Metaphors in Robert Lowell’s Life Studies


This paper will examine Robert Lowell’s creative process of exposing his private experiences in his autobiographical poetry, particularly in one of his best volumes; Life Styles, through which he intended to fictionalize his self in the process of creating a retrospective truth of his life.

Lowell utilized his recollected memories, not only to explore his lost self and others’ as part of his psychotherapy, but to employ such reminiscences to recreate a modified self located at the center of the cultural framework. By following such a poetic style, that represented a new sensibility, Lowell achieved a significant breakthrough in American poetry, that M.L. Rosenthal branded as “confessional (1), while B. Shaw labeled as “poetry of revolt.” (2)

However, the most interesting feature in his confessional poetry is the use of ‘marital metaphors’; specifically those of ‘separation’, ‘breaking up’ and ‘divorce’. Lowell adapted this style to launch a procession of alienated figures whose calamities examine, shed light and link the poet’s private embarrassments, painful memories and psychological traumas with so many seemingly unrelated topics such as American materialistic traditions, estrangement of the artist from culture, religious false verifications and war.


Keywords: Alienation, Confessional poetry, Family pressure, Mortification, Mrital metaphors that indicate collapse and parting

Unique Article ID: EJELLS-101
Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 1-15 (Download PDF)

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This work by European American Journals is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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