Writing Styles of Sylvia Plath

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The Life and Writings of Sylvia Plath After reading and discussing many poets and their written work, I have realized that not only pain, but any emotion that the poet is feeling, plays a large part in how the poems express themselves through their writing. I have chosen to explore Sylvia Plath and the poems she has written and how her pain and personal experiences have influenced her poetry. Similar to many other authors of the twentieth century, Sylvia Plath’s writing was influenced largely by her depression and mental illness.

I found it rather interesting that her life began during The Great Depression and that from a young girl at the age of eight she was suffering and battling her own personal depression. It’s almost as though when she was born, the time period kind of foreshadowed the rest of her life for her. One of the main reasons of her depression was due to the death of her father; Plath never fully overcame the pain. The well-known poem “Daddy” reflects the pain that she experienced after the loss of her father. Many people have gone on to say that her father’s passing was the foundation of her writing.

Her feelings of not being able to let go are observed in the line seven of “Daddy” when she states “You died before I had time—“. The line kind of trails off into an empty thought. Almost as if Plath has more to say to him, but just isn’t or doesn’t want to for one reason or another. I read it as though she was saying that he died before she got the chance to spend more time with him. Although, I know poetry can be interpreted in many different ways. After the passing of her father, she continued to live a dreary life. She attempted suicide and eventually got married to Ted Hughes.

He was a man that was known to be quite promiscuous and one of the biggest seducers in Cambridge. However, Plath continued to actively pursue a relationship with Hughes. It’s been said that Hughes was having an affair with another author and he and Plath eventually got divorced after having children. She has said it was due to the affair; however, Hughes said it was because of Plath’s mental illness. The year they divorced, Plath wrote the poem “Tulips”. Some say that this poem was written to help her cope with her post-partum depression.

One example of this would be that she gave the tulips life-like characteristics. In lines thirty-seven and thirty-eight Plath personifies the tulips by saying she can “hear them breath/lightly through their swaddlings like an awful baby”. This is a great example of how one might assume Plath was trying to get her fears of being a mother out. Although, she loved her children, she still somewhat pictured a baby as awful. Already suffering from depression probably intensified her post-partum depression much more than a “normal” woman might experience it.

Sylvia started her writing shortly after her father’s passing and increased in emotional force as she got older and matured. The more pain she felt and the more she suffered, the more intense her literary work became. Her life was obviously filled with pain and agony. It’s quite clear that her writings were influenced by all of the happenings in her life and not only her father’s death. It’s most probable that Plath’s depression caused chaos in her marriage and home life, well-being, and eventually led her to take her own life by inhaling fumes from a gas oven that she had turned on in February of 1963.

I attached this poem to my review because we didn’t review it in class and wanted to ensure you had a copy to read if you needed it. “Tulips” by Sylvia Plath The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here. Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands. I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions. I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses And my history to the anaesthetist and my body to surgeons.

They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut. Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in. The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble, They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps, Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another, So it is impossible to tell how many there are. My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently. They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep.

Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage —- My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox, My husband and child smiling out of the family photo; Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks. I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat Stubbornly hanging on to my name and address. They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations. Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head. I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.

I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty. How free it is, you have no idea how free —- The peacefulness is so big it dazes you, And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets. It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet. The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me. Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby. Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.

They are subtle: they seem to float, though they weigh me down, Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their colour, A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck. Nobody watched me before, now I am watched. The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins, And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips, And I hve no face, I have wanted to efface myself. The vivid tulips eat my oxygen. Before they came the air was calm enough, Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.

Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise. Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine. They concentrate my attention, that was happy Playing and resting without committing itself. The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves. The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals; They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat, And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me. The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea, And comes from a country far away as health.