Sylvia Plath: The Exemplary Confessional Poet

1009 Words5 Pages
Emerging in the 1950s and 1960s, confessional poetry was essentially an autobiographical style of writing. Often focusing on topics that were taboo at the time like mental illness and suicide, it is no surprise that Sylvia Plath wrote poetry in this style. Plath suffered from depression most of her life and used writing as an outlet (Spinello). In her works “Cut,” “I Am Vertical,” and “Lady Lazarus,” Plath exemplifies confessional poetry through the themes of resentment, death, and mental illness.
To understand why Plath is placed in the literary category that she is, there needs to be knowledge of her personal life. Born in 1932 in Massachusetts, Plath led a short and tragic life. Even as a young girl she excelled in academics, but her strength and interest was always in writing. Unfortunately, her prose often reflected the misfortunes that she faced. When she was only eight, she lost her father to an illness he had battled for some time. The death of her father haunted her throughout her entire life and it seemed as though it was an obsession of sorts for Plath.
All the while, she strived to reach a level of perfection that was unattainable. As a result, she always felt that she was not good enough. She attempted suicide for the first time when she was in college, but following treatment she returned to school and finished. She continued to write poetry, but her poems seemed to obsess over pain and were often very morbid. She met poet Ted Hughes, who would eventually be the man to publish her poetry following her death, when at Cambridge University attending a fellowship study. The two were married in 1956 and had two children together. Feeling the pressures of being a mother and a wife while trying to be a poet were beginning ...

... middle of paper ...

...self-destructiveness” that fueled her writing (“Overview”) and helped her to become one of the most well known poets of her time.

Works Cited

Kendall, Tim. Sylvia Plath: A Critical Study. London: Faber and Faber, 2001. Print.
"Overview of Sylvia Plath." DISCovering Authors. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resources in Context. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.
Plath, Sylvia, and Ted Hughes. The Collected Poems. New York: Harper & Row, 1981. Print.
Rosenberg, Ellen. "Sylvia Plath." DISCovering Authors. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resources in Context. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.
Spinello, Serena. "The Manifestation of Mental Illness in Sylvia Plath's Poetry." Yahoo Contributor Network. N.p., 21 Oct. 2008. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.
Uroff, M. D. "Sylvia Plath and Confessional Poetry: A Reconsideration." DISCovering Authors. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resources in Context. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

More about Sylvia Plath: The Exemplary Confessional Poet

Open Document