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Sylvia Plath


from: "Fields of  Vision” by D.Delaney

Life and Works

Background  Sylvia Plath was born in Massachusetts, USA. She was an excellent student and won many awards and prizes. During her High School years she had several of her poems and stories published in literary magazines. Plath’s early poetry revealed an emotionally fragile personality.

Fragile personality She was obsessed by the idea of perfection and put herself under enormous pressure which eventually led to a nervous breakdown and a suicide attempt.

Cambridge, Ted Hughes and marriage Following hospitalization and psychotherapy, she recovered, graduated High School ‘summa cum laude’ and won a scholarship to study at Cambridge, England where she met and married the poet Ted Hughes. The couple moved to the USA but, after just three years, returned to England where their daughter was born.

The Colossus In 1960 Sylvia Plath’s first volume of poetry, The Colossus, was published and she began work on an autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar. In 1962 she had a second child, The Colossus was published in the USA, radio play, Three Women, was set to air on the BBC and she was at last gaining some recognition.

Suicide This period of relative happiness was interrupted when she discovered that her husband was having an affair. The couple divorced and six months later Sylvia Plath committed suicide at her home in London.

Themes Sylvia Plath had not been well-known before her death, but the posthumous publication of The Bell Jar (1963) and Ariel (1965, the collection of thirty-five poems she had written in the last months of her life), brought her to the public’s attention. While her early poems are mostly about death, her later work shows the complex personality of a woman in search of her own identity. Her concern for the condition of women, which emerges in both her poetry and her autobiography, made her into a spokesperson for feminism. She was also deeply concerned with issues such as consumerism, the misuse of the mass-media and technology and the exploitation of man and the environment.

Style Sylvia Plath’s poetry is highly personal and has often been defined as ‘confessional’. Many of her poems are written in the dramatic monologue form. Surprising uses of sound and rhythm, literary equivalents of cinematic techniques such as flashbacks and close-ups, shocking metaphors and highly personal symbols make her poetic style extremely distinctive.

In 1981 she was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.

External Links:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvia_Plath         



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