"Dying is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well."
Sylvia Plath has long been recognized as a poetic icon. After committing suicide in her thirties, many of her previously unrecognized works gained notoriety and praise. Throughout her life, she struggled to be accepted into the literary world. After writing many poems, short stories and "The Bell Jar," she remained unsatisfied with the success and momentum she gained with each, and took her own life. It is through her words we see a woman that used her writing as a means of expression, many times expressing grief, sadness and anger. Plath began writing a series of poems shortly before her death that provide is with an opportunity to see the internal conflicts she felt. Many of these poems focus on death and suffering. Plath uses death imagery in poems found in Ariel to represent her need to escape reality and therefore dissociate herself from emotional and physical existence. I will show how Plath's life experiences and more importantly, her reactions to them, have contributed to her depressive, death-obsessed state. I will also provide examples from several of her poems demonstrating Plath's use of death imagery and analyze why it is used in the way that it is. Lastly, I will show how many of her poems from Ariel demonstrate Plath's self-loathing, and her need to feel a sense of success-even if that success comes from an accomplished suicide.
Although Sylvia Plath had many opportunities throughout her life, and accomplished what many only dream of, we see how the few tragedies she did endure, affected her. At age eight her father died from complications related to diabetes. Plath had been very c...
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...g and gruesome at times, but each tells a story-a story of a woman, her life, her struggles, her successes and her failures. All of them allow us to step into the broken mind and heart of Sylvia Plath.
Broe, Mary Lynn. Protean Poetics: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath. Columbia:
U of Missouri P, 1980.
Bundtzen, Lynda. Plath's Incarnations: Women and the Creative Process.
Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1983.
Holbrook, David. Sylvia Plath: Poetry and Existence. London: Athlone P,
Phillips, Robert. "The Dark Funnel: A Reading of Sylvia Plath." in
Butscher, Edward, ed.
Plath, Sylvia. The Collected Poems. Ed. Ted Hughes. New York: Harper
and Row, 1981.
Rose, Jacqueline. The Haunting of Sylvia Plath. Cambridge: Harvard UP,
Rosenblatt, Jon. Sylvia Plath: The Poetry of Initiation. Chapel Hill: U of
North Carolina P, 1979.
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