Abigail MillerSylvia Plath’s poetry is known for being extremely personal, disturbing, and quite intense. It all started on October 27,1932, when Plath was born in Boston Massachusetts. Her mother was Aurelia Schober and her father was Otto Plath, who was a German instructor and biology professor at Boston University. She had one brother whose name was Warren Joseph Plath.Her father died on November 5, 1940 from complications after having his foot amputated, only a week and a half after Plath’s eighth birthday.
Plath later described her first nine years as “sealed off like a ship in bottle-beautiful, inaccessible, obsolete, a fine, white flying myth.”(Plath 1979)Shortly after her father’s death, she began to write in a journal.She published her first poem in the Boston Traveller when she was eight. Sylvia claimed writing stories and poetry became her only new way of being happy. Sylvia’s grandparents moved in to help take care of her and her brother. They moved from Winthrop to Wellesley, where she excelled at high school and began publishing stories.
Sylvia said she was determined to become a writer and not a housewife. In her journal she wrote,” I am afraid of getting older. I am afraid of getting married.Spare me from cooking three meals a day- spare me from the relentless cage of routine and rote. I want to be free… I want, I think, to be omniscient…”(Plague 1).Plath graduated In 1950. She published numerous works and won a scholarship to attend Smith College. While at college, she wrote to her mother,”The world is splitting open at my feet like a ripe, juicy watermelon(Dague 1).
She began editing The Smith Review and was rewarded a position as a guest editor at Mademoiselle, making her have to spend a month in New York City. Sadly, the experience was not what she had hoped for, and it all went down from there. She was furious, so she slashed her legs to see if she had enough courage to commit suicide. Plath then received news that she was refused admission to the Harvard writing seminar, she became extremely depressed and she had to go to electroconvulsive therapy for her depression. Plath’s first documented suicide attempt was August of 1953. She took her mother’s sleeping pills and crawled underneath the house they lived in. She survived, and they found her three days later still laying in the crawlspace.
She explained that she had been “blissfully succumbed to the whirling blackness that I honestly believed was eternal oblivion.”(Dague 1). She had to spend the next six months in psychiatric care. She had “seemed” to make a good recovery, so she returned to college. The next year she graduated from Smith with highest honors.
It seemed as everything was great, Plath met Ted Hughes on February 25, 1956 at a party. They married on June 16, 1956. Their daughter Freida was born on April 1, 1960, but then in February of 1961, Plath’s soon to be next child, ended in a miscarriage. In a letter that Plath sent to her therapist, she stated that Hughes had beaten her two days before the miscarriage. In August she finished her novel The Bell Jar.
This is when her audience realized that there was extremely dark about her. Plath wrote,” I think my poems immediately come out of the sensuous and emotional experiences I have, but… I believe that one should be able to control and manipulate experiences, even the most terrifying.”(Plath,1979).Just when things couldn’t get any worse, her husband began having an affair with Assia Wevill. In June of 1962, Plath had gotten into a car accident, In which she admitted was another suicide attempt, she drove her car off the side of the road and into a river.
In July, she discovered that Hughes was having an affair with Assia, and Plath and Hughes separated.In that month, Plath wrote 26 poems. She returned alone to London with their children. She became very depressed. She wrote to her doctor about her issue,”It had been ongoing for six or seven months. Her depression had worsened and became severe.
She struggled with insomnia, she took medicine to induce sleep, yet woke up early. She lost 20 pounds”(Rort 1). February 11, 1963, a nurse was to arrive at Plath’s house at 9AM.
They found Sylvia Plath dead of carbon monoxide poisoning with her head in the oven. Plath had described her despair as “owl’s talons clenching my heart” (Rort 1). When Hughes heard, he was devastated,”That’s the end of my life.The rest is posthumous”(Rort 1). Hughes picked the inscription of her tombstone”Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted.”Her gravestone was repeatedly vandalized by the people that believed Hughes shouldn’t have been on the tomb. When Assia Wevill took her own life and their four-year-old daughter’s in 1969, Hughes had the stone removed.
“She will continue to be seen as a girl abandoned by her father, a young woman who tried to kill herself, and who later succeeded in her suicide attempt. She was a girl who started publishing poetry when she was eight years old, did well enough in high school to win a scholarship to college and graduate, and made writing her life’s vocation, dying shortly after finding her true voice.”(Steinburg 1).Kort,Carol.Plath,Sylvia.” American Women Writers,Third Edition,Facts On File,2016.
Bloom’s LiteratureAccessed 9 Jan. 2018.Dague,Wilma Weant. “Plath,Sylvia.” Encyclopedia of American Poetry,2-Volume Set, Second Edition,Facts On File,2013.
Bloom’s Literature,. Accessed 9 Jan. 2018.Bloom,Harold.”The Bell Jar.”The Bell Jar,Chelsea House,2009.Bloom’s Literature,The Bell Jar.Accessed 9 Jan.2018.Snodgrass,Mary Ellen.”Sylvia’s Death”Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature,Second Edition,Facts on File,2013.Bloom’s LiteratureAccessed 9 Jan.2018.