Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath is a feminist poet who suffered from mental health issues. Her first poem was at 8 and her father died shortly after. This effected her greatly throughout her life and she suffered from depression, self harm, and suicidal behaviour. Her collection of poems ‘Ariel’ were unreleased poems she wrote before she died that her husband released after her death.

Plath writes in the style of confessional poetry, a type of autobiographical poetry that deals with trauma and relationships in a confession style to the reader. It is comparable to confessing to a priest in church your sins through the form of poetry. In the poem ‘Daddy’ Plath takes an ironic take of the genre and confesses to her Father in a childlike raw manner, using rhymes to create the effect of it sounding like a nursery rhyme when read aloud.

The themes that Plath writes about are motherhood with her two children, her marital problems with her husband cheating on her, her mental health issues with suicide and self harm, and lastly her fathers death and how she believes he was a Nazi. All the themes that she covers are raw and brutal traumas of her life, and by exposing them to the world through her poetry she’s confessing her trauma unflinchingly that creates a strong poetic voice that is unmistakable.

Plath’s poetry has been psychoanalytically criticised, which means the psychoanalysis of the author or a particular character. Plath was critiqued for her writing in a style that glamourises self harm and suicide, due to her poems covering her desires to do so in her brutal unfiltered writing. Her poems were her form of expressing her feelings in a healthy manner as a coping method for the feeling she had, and we’re not intended to be released at the time so I think that she is not at blame for what she was wrote. Her poetry is important to be released even if it is a glamorisation, as that was her intention. An example of this glamorisation is in the poem ‘Cut’ where Plath glamourises the everyday domestic event of cutting her thumb to be a dramatic celebration, in the poem she uses this event to explore her identity and struggles with mental health.


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