Sylvia Plath

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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"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 suicide attempt. All of these things led her to take her life in 1963, and all were factors in her extreme mental instability. The many dark themes exhibited in the poetry of Sylvia Plath are the brainchild of a foundation constructed of her mental illness, which sprung from the many hardships she experienced.

At an early Plath was troubled with the death of her father, and the mental anguish this caused her is evident in her later poetry. At the age of eight, Plath's father died after a struggle with diabetes, thereafter her mother diligently worked to support her children and give them an advanced education (Views). Upon the death of her father Plath's insecurity seemed to begin as she became increasingly self-conscious of money status (Views). In addition, the death of her father was also a factor in her depression, as her husband Ted Hughes once said of her "she worshipped her father," and thus his death was a great loss for her (Aird 4). This element of her story is most definitely recognized as significant, especially to her illness, as writer Elizabeth Hardwick wrote...