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Giorgio de Chirico's oil painting “The Disquieting Muses” is considered by many to be one of the great surrealist paintings and is widely recognized as de Chirico's best work.Unlike most surrealist works, which typically set a very positive and upbeat tone, de Chirico's few surrealist paintings are unique and much less lighthearted.Plath's “The Disquieting Muses” seems to be another example of her inspiration through an idea gleaned from the title of a work of art, rather than something created from the actual content found within the painting.
After all, when a person dreams at night, they do not typically include their bed in the dream.
It is these very criticisms that Plath responds to nearly 50 years later.
It was because of this unusual spin on the standard surrealist style that de Chirico was spurned by most other surrealists, causing him to abandon the style in favor of classicism.
His brief time creating surrealist works produced paintings that, much like other works within the style, have inspired viewers, including Sylvia Plath, to use their imaginations to create a story that goes beyond the still image in front of them.
In these cases, she uses both the titles of the paintings and the titles’ connotations in order to express her own internal desires.
Regardless of the way in which she uses these works of art in her poetry, it is clear that she gains inspiration from them.
In this description, the muses are no longer vengeful ghosts that follow and torment the young Plath, but are instead mere statues, incapable of movement or emotion.
She continues, saying “their shadows long in the setting sun / That never brightens or goes down” (52-53).
The snake charmer is found standing under branches of the same kind of tree in both paintings, later described by Plath as “heart-shaped” and “like catalpa leaves” (“Yadighwa, on a Red Couch, Among Lilies,” 6).
Amazingly, these jungle environments were created “from visits to the zoo and botanical gardens, from postcards, books, and from Rousseau's vivid imagination,” as the artist never left France.