Sylvia Plath Essays

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Plath Bell Jar the Life Essay

Words: 2701 Length: 9 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 21374117

Eventually, Esther sneaks into the cellar with a bottle of sleeping pills -- prescribed to her for the insomnia she was experiencing, without any other real attempts to understand or solve the underlying problems of her mental upset -- having left a note for her mother saying she was taking a long walk. Esther then swallows as many of the pills as she is able, and it appears to be several days (it is never conclusively stated in the text) before she is found and taken to the hospital, where she awakens to learn that she has yet again been unsuccessful.

Following her physical convalescence, Esther is subjected to electroconvulsive therapy, which she notes has a soothing effect on her depression. Things begin to look somewhat better for Esther; she is being well-cared for at a private hospital paid for by a rich benefactress and admirer of Esther's work. The novel closes with the future seemingly uncertain, as Esther enters the room wherein she is to receive an interview by the hospital's medical board to see if she can be released without presenting a danger to herself. Esther already alluded in previous narration to a child she had borne, however, so it is known -- even if it is not shown in the novel's final scene -- that life does go on for Esther Greenwood to at least some degree, and that indeed the darkest period of her life seems already behind her.

A Comparison of Heroines

There are many details of Esther's experience that cannot be confirmed or refuted by Plath's own life, largely because her journals from this period are either non-existent or simply remain unpublished and hidden by her estate, primarily her mother and Ted Hughes in the years immediately following her death (Steinberg par. 14-5). There are…… [Read More]

Works Cited:
Buell, Frederick. "Sylvia Plath's Traditionalism." Boundary 2-5(1) (1976), pp. 195-212.

Gilson, Bill. "Biography of Sylvia Plath." Accessed 3 April 2010. 
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Plath as Well as an Examination of Essay

Words: 890 Length: 3 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 21147939

Plath as well as an examination of two of her poems. There were three sources used to complete this paper.

Her Life

Sylvia Plath spent her short adult life as a writer. Her works are held up today as classic pieces of poetry and literature and examined for their undercurrents as well as their meanings. Plath was born in 1932 to a professor father of German descent and an American mother whose parents were of Austria. Her father had migrated to the states when he was 15 years old and he met her mother at a German class that she took in later years. He was the teacher, she was the student and their union ended in marriage and the birth of Sylvia (Sylvia Plath (

Plath was an overachiever her entire life. She skipped grades in school and won honors both academically and socially in her high school ventures. She often felt so torn between the academic and the social obligations that often clashed she became very hard on herself to succeed at both. "In her Letters Home, she wrote, "I think I would like to call myself 'the girl who wanted to be God.' Yet if I were not in this body, where would I be- perhaps I am destined to be classified and qualified. But, oh, I cry out against it." Plath obviously had a perfectionist attitude which drove her to succeed at the same time that it insured failure. This created a kind of destructive energy, which presents itself in her later writings."

She went to Smith College and she continued to write stories and poems throughout these years. Plath's mother was her manager and Plath pursued a writing career her entire adult life. She married a poet and during their marriage she worked part time jobs to help pay the bills as they struggled to get their writing careers launched. Plath wrote stories, an autobiographical novel called The Bell Jar, and poems. She and her husband lived in England as well as the states. Her husband gained fame as a writer while Plath was still struggling…… [Read More]

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Daddy and Lady Lazarus by Plath Essay

Words: 1464 Length: 5 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 72141332

Sylvia Plath: The Use of Dramatic Monologue as Confessional Poetry

Sylvia Plath presents an unusual paradox as a writer. On one hand, she is lauded by literary critics, particularly feminist critics, for her use of confessional poetry. Specifically, in poems such as "Daddy" and "Lady Lazarus" Plath is assumed to be 'confessing' certain aspects of her personal life. Like the speaker of "Daddy," she was the daughter of a German father; like the subject of "Lady Lazarus" she attempted suicide several times. On the other hand, both of these poems are still written in the genre of the dramatic monologue, in which a speaker articulates an idea through the assumed persona of another person obviously different from the poet.

In "Daddy," perhaps Plath's most famous poem, the speaker is the child of a former Nazi officer who is desperately trying to exorcise the ghost of her father.

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 I may well be a Jew.

The speaker of the poem "Daddy" identifies not with her father, but with her father's murdered victims, suggesting that the oppression she felt at his hands as a young girl mirrors that of the oppression he wielded against the Jews of Europe. The political oppression of the German man parallels his oppression within the home of his family. "Rather than an elegy or an angry conversation of a girl with her deceased father, 'Daddy' can be seen as a manifestation of the different aspects of a woman's oppression by patriarchy" (Hassanpour & Hashim 123). In other words, this gives the poem an explicitly political dimension that it would lack if simply read as an expression of Plath's feelings about her own father who was of German extraction but not a Nazi. Plath explicitly invokes the Holocaust in every line, effectively ratcheting upon the intensity of the poem and making its subject matter larger than that of a familial relationship.

Plath almost playfully creates connections with her poetry and…… [Read More]

Curley, Maureen. "Plath's 'Lady Lazarus.'" The Explicator 59.4 (2001): 213-4.

ProQuest. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.
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Deserving Poets Anne Sexton and Essay

Words: 1892 Length: 6 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 63437494

At twenty I tried to die

And get back, back, back to you.

I thought even the bones will do. (51-60)

These lines allow us to see the poet dealing with her anger and the final thought is equally powerful when the poet tells her father, " Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through" (110). The anger, unlike her father, lives and that might be the most agonizing aspect of the poem. There is no way for the poet to escape these emotions.

Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath are poetic geniuses that cut their fame and their lives short. While many would like to contend that neither poet would have been as popular had they lived, this is simply not the case. Their poetry stands alone because, ore than anything, it is real. Sexton and Plath were not ashamed of facing their feelings and presenting them in a realistic way. Both poets suffered from depression that forced them to view death in an unusual way. In fact, it could be said that they held death and dying in high regard. Their fascination with death went beyond normal in that they imagined attaining it through suicide. This topic is one that both poets confront from a very personal level. Plath's suicide left Sexton feeling sorrowful and jealous as she watched her friend attain what she had always wanted. Both women expressed their womanhood through poetry with topics ranging from thoughts about their children to thoughts about men, fathers in particular. These poets no doubt gained notoriety when they committed suicide but their poetry had already captured an audience. Throughout the years, the poets are remembered for what they wrote more than how they died.

Works… [Read More]

Berman, Jeffrey. Surviving Literary Suicide. Boston: University of Massachusetts Press. 1999.

Kumin, Maxine. Introduction: The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
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American Poets -- the Strangeness Essay

Words: 4117 Length: 11 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 59770845

Apparently Plath wrote the poem during her stay in the hospital, which can be a depressing place notwithstanding all the nurses and orderlies dressed in white. The appendectomy followed a miscarriage that Plath had suffered through, so given those realities in the poet's life -- especially for a woman to lose a child she had been carrying -- one can identify with the bleak nature of the poem. Confronted with the birth that turned out to be death, and then a painful appendectomy, the tulips are used as something of an abstraction and the redness of them gives her pain because it "corresponds" to the wound in her body from the surgery.

The opening stanza's first few lines seem rather peaceful and restful: "The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here / look how white everything is / How quiet, how snowed-in / I am learning peacefulness / lying by myself quietly / as the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands…" but by the fourth line in the first stanza, the reader is hit with the truth about this poem, which is that the poet feels like the life has gone out of her and she has turned her clothes "up to the nurses" and her "body to surgeons"; those knife-wielding physicians and the environment she is in let the reader know this poem is going to be very personal and perhaps very depressing.

Anyone who has been in a hospital for any length of time can identify with the lines that compares nurses to birds: "The nurses pass and pass / they are no trouble / they pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps / doing things with their hands / one just the same as another / so it is impossible to tell how many there are." Ocean environments are always places where ubiquitous seagulls sway in the wind and scurry along the sand, and they all look alike, and they are all free.

Meanwhile the tulips "eat my oxygen," the poet writes. She would like to get rid of them the same way she would like to depart from the "trappings of her life and the family she has"

(Dobbs, 1977). Instead of tulips the inference from the poet is…… [Read More]

Brower, Reuben a. (1963). The Poetry of Robert Frost: Constellations of Intention. New York:

Dobbs, Jeannine. 1977. "Viciousness in the Kitchen: Sylvia Plath's Domestic Poetry.