The Life of Sylvia Plath Essay

1012 Words Sep 27th, 1999 5 Pages
The Life of Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath's life, like her manic depression, constantly jumped between Heaven and Hell. Her seemingly perfect exterior hid a turbulent and deeply troubled spirit. A closer look at her childhood and personal experiences removes some element of mystery from her writings. One central character to Sylvia Plath's poems is her father, Professor
Otto Emile Plath. Otto Plath was diabetic and refused to stay away from foods restricted by his doctor. As a result , he developed a sore on his left foot.
Professor Plath ignored the sore, and eventually the foot was overcome with gangrene. The foot and then the entire left leg were amputated in an effort to save his life, but he died in November of
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Madamoiselle magazine awarded Plath a position as guest editor the summer following her junior year at Smith. Friends and family were stunned at her suicide attempt when she returned to college, most believing she had suffered a nervous breakdown due to the stress at the magazine. Her treatment was considered the best the medical world could offer and included electro-shock and psychotherapies. Plath tells her side of the story in the poem Lady
Lazarus where she likens her experience to a victim of the Holocaust. But her apparent recovery enabled her to return to graduate summa cum laude the following year. Ted Hughes met and fell in love with the writer while she continued her studies at Cambridge on a Fulbright grant. Hughes was also a student at
Cambridge, and a fellow poet. The couple married four years later, and after a short stay in the States, returned to England. After returning to London, Plath' s first book of poetry, Colossus, was published in 1960. Plath's best known work, The Bell Jar was published following the birth of their second child.( Ted
Hughes, 52-66) The novel is semi-autobiographical, describing a young woman's tragic coming of age. The central character, a schoolgirl prodigy, Esther
Greenwood, makes her way to adulthood in spite of periodic mental breakdowns.
The Bell Jar is particularly poignant when Esther desrcibes her madness as " .
..a bell jar,

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