Sylvia Plath Essay

1507 words - 7 pages

"To a great extent the myth has been fed by feminist fuel and reams have been written about Plath, the super-achiever who fell victim to both the repressions of the woman's role and society's willingness to constrain female artists," said Carol Bere of Plath in her essay "Letters Home: Correspondence 1850-1963" (Wagner 59). Indeed, the previous quote is quite an accurate summary of the poet Sylvia Plath. Plath was born in Boston, Massachusetts on October 27, 1932 to Otto and Aurelia Plath, a professor and high-school teacher, respectively (Views). Throughout her life, Plath endured many of the things most people hope to avoid - the loss of a parent, an unfaithful spouse, and a ...view middle of the document...

After the aforementioned "love" is cut off, Plath began her voyage through a downward spiral. In her poem "Daddy," she portrays her father as a murderer, killing some part of her (Alexander 109). She even relates her pain to the plight of the Jews in the Haulocaust: An engine, an engine Chuffing me off like a Jew. A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen. I began to talk like a Jew. I think may well be a Jew.Quite often Plath did not place blame for her unhappiness solely on her father - it is evident that her mother and family too received much of the brunt, as exhibited in the poem "The Disquieting Muses" from her collection entitled The Colossus. In this particular poem she express how she feels both trapped by her mother and angry with her for not protecting her from the so-called "muses," which represent the elements of the world that frightened Plath (Rosenblatt 73).Life moved on for Plath, though she would wallow in her father's death until her own. In 1950 she received a full scholarship to attend the prestigious Smith College, where she continued to write poems (she had begun writing as a child). Plath's poetry received two awards in 1952: the Seventeen Fiction Contest, and the Mademoiselle fiction contest, with the latter leading to a salaried job (Aird 6). Throughout her life she was rather antisocial, her relationships with people described as "friendly enough" (Woman 104). Indeed, loneliness is quite often a telltale sign of depression. She attempted suicide by swallowing fifty sleeping pills in August of 1953, and she was found three days later hidden in her cellar - alive though very sick (Aird 7). After that event, Plath spent six months recuperating via intensive therapy (which included the electro-convulsive methods she greatly disliked) at a McLean Hospital (her visit later became the subject of much of her work) (Wagner-Martin 33). She graduated in 1955 summa cum laude from Smith, but her mental condition was still unstable (Aird 7). She won the Fullbright scholarship to Cambridge, and that same year she sailed off to England (Aird 7). Plath's novel The Bell Jar, published shortly before her death, expressed much of the agony and instability she felt at the time (Alexander 105). Many of her critics see the novel as an autobiography, with the book's heroine, Esther Greenwood, her fictional counterpart (Alexander 105). The novel is basically a romanticized retelling of Plath's experiences prior to her suicide attempt in 1953 (Wagner-Martin 34). In it Esther suffers through insecurities and illness and questions many of the things Plath herself questioned (such as a man's "rightful" inclination to be more sexual) (Views).While attending Cambridge she met and fell in love with England's present poet laureate, Ted Hughes, and they married in 1956 (Aird 7). On April of 1956 she wrote of him to her mother: "The most shattering thing is that in the last two...

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