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Today's Inspiration

May 11, 2012
Lady Lazarus and A Chat About Death, Part 1

With all the death talk this season (cancer scares! nurse killings! snipers!), many Mad Menites are wondering if Matt Weiner is in the mood to finally pay up and off somebody. Rumors swirled last season about Greg Harris and Roger Sterling, but this season the likely friends we have on offer are either young sad Peter or young happy Megs. Let’s consider Pete first:

Do you remember all the way back in “Pilot” where there was some scoffing discussion of a small consideration called the death wish? Don may have blown it off then, but he’s not laughing (down an elevator shaft) now: the man is facing mortality somewhat brutally at the hands of his heedless young wife. Who wasn’t laughing all the way back in 1960? Why, Pete Campbell, of course, who has always understood the morbid urges we all feel: the man and his erstwhile rifle have been hurtling down that metaphorical Freudian highway onto an oncoming car for five seasons now. And now, he’s kind of literally hurtling down that highway. With a re-introduced rifle. And he’s a bad driver!

Speaking of metaphors and psychology, this episode is named after Sylvia Plath’s famous, stunning poem “Lady Lazarus”, which in large part is about the speaker’s fractured identities making it impossible for her to liiiiiiive. Based loosely on autobiographical circumstances, the speaker details her various suicide attempts, and the struggle to reconcile her reluctant, warring body and mind with the facticity of life. Pete, who attempts to mirror Don (and is now seeking out a brown[haired] Betty of his own) while maintaining a complex and frighteningly sad inner life of his own, has to balance his multiple personalities as well in what is becoming an increasingly tenuous situation.

Note well:

It’s the theatrical
Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute

Which is clearly how Pete has begun to view his existence of coming home on the 525 train. Pete hasn’t attempted to kill himself (yet), but ever since his woeful Job-ian cry of “I have nothing”, it’s been clear he feels he’s dying a small death each time he lives a life he has begun to see only hollowness in. This was also an issue Plath wrestled with, loving her complicated and destructive husband and young children as well as seeking to free herself from it in due course.

Footnote by Natasha Simons

3:31pm  |  55 notes   |  pete campbell |  sylvia plath |  lady lazarus |  mad men |  natasha simons 
  1. pensarenmusaranyes reblogged this from madmenfootnotes
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  6. meredithann reblogged this from madmenfootnotes and added:
    didn’t tie together pete’s unhappiness with the traditional, married life with plath’s own feelings on the subject....
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  10. marciw reblogged this from madmenfootnotes and added:
    If I ever win the lottery, I’m going to write stuff like this all the time. Analysis-gasm! (But I think the key part of...
  11. natface reblogged this from madmenfootnotes and added:
    Always be writing about Pete Campbell Megan Draper’s part is here.
  12. madmenfootnotes posted this