Sylvia Plath - Online Essays and Papers
Note: This page is divided into the following divisions:
student papers and essays
newspaper articles and reviews
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- Eileen Aird: 'Poem for a Birthday' to 'Three Women': Development in the Poetry of Sylvia Plath
from "Critical Quarterly", Vol. 21, No. 4, 1979, pp. 63-72.
- Pamela J. Annas: The Self in the World: The Social Context of Sylvia Plath's Late Poems
from "Women's Studies", Vol. 7, Nos. 1-2, 1980, pp. 171-83.
- Fred Beake: Plathetic Fallacies
This essay discusses the influence other writers like Roethke or Williams may have had on Plath's poetry,
it discusses her contemporaries and looks at her poetry, arguing that her poems were not personal
in a strict sense. Rather, Plath used personae and masks and transformed personal experience into
something of more general interest.
This article is discussed by Anne Skea, a Ted Hughes specialist, in her
Consideration of Fred Beake's 'Plathectic Fallacies'.
- Diane S. Bonds: The Separative Self in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar
from "Women's Studies", Vol. 18, No. 1, May, 1990, pp. 49-64.
In this essay, Bonds reconsiders feminist critical analysis of The Bell Jar, drawing attention to Esther
Greenwood's recovery in the novel. According to Bonds, Esther fails to establish an autonomous, or separative, self, and ultimately resorts to
"culturally-ingrained stereotypes of women."
- Jeannine Dobbs: 'Viciousness in the Kitchen': Sylvia Plath's Domestic Poetry
from "Modern Language Studies", Vol. 7, No. 2, 1977, pp. 11-25.
In this essay, Dobbs examines allusions to marriage and motherhood in Plath's poetry. According to Dobbs, the
hostile and often violent imagery in such pieces reflects Plath's strong resistance to the prospect of domestic entrapment as a wife and mother.
- Jack Folsom: Death and Rebirth in Sylvia Plath's Berck-Plage
from "Journal of Modern Literature", XVII:4 (1991), pp. 521-535. copyright 1994 Temple University
- William Freedman: The Monster in Plath's 'Mirror'
from "Papers on Language and Literature", Vol. 108, No. 5, October, 1993, pp. 152-69.
In this essay, Freedman discusses Plath's use of the mirror as a symbol of female passivity, subjugation, and
Plath's own conflicted self-identity caused by social pressure to reconcile the competing obligations of artistic and domestic life.]
- Ted Hughes: On Sylvia Plath
from "Raritan", Vol. 14, No. 2, Fall, 1994, pp. 1-10.
In this essay, Hughes comments on Plath's struggle to transcribe her private anguish into the fiction of The Bell
Jar. According to Hughes, Plath's difficulty stemmed from her effort to produce a novel with both mythic aspirations and cathartic ritual based in
- Brita Lindberg-Seyersted: Sylvia Plath's Psychic Landscapes
from "English Studies", Vol. 71, No. 6, December, 1990, pp. 509-22.
In this essay, Lindberg-Seyersted examines the development of Plath's poetry through analysis of major
themes and imagery found in her description of landscapes, seascapes, and the natural world.
- Wendy Martin: 'God's Lioness'--Sylvia Plath, Her Prose and Poetry
from "Women's Studies", Vol. 1, 1973, pp. 191-8.
n this essay, Martin provides both a brief overview of The Bell Jar and examples of Plath's poetry to illustrate the
autobiographic and social context of her work. Challenging the "negative and even hostile judgment of Plath's politics" levelled by some critics,
Martin extols Plath's talent and influence as "one of the leading American women poets since Emily Dickinson."
- Joyce Carol Oates: The Death Throes of Romanticism: The Poems of Sylvia Plath
- Arthur Oberg: Sylvia Plath: 'Love, Love, My Season'
from "Modern American Lyric: Lowell, Berryman, Creeley, and Plath", Rutgers University Press, 1978, pp. 127-73
- Marjorie Perloff: Sylvia Plath's 'Collected Poems': A Review-Essay
from "Resources for American Literary Study", Vol. XI, No. 2, Autumn, 1981, pp. 304-13.
- Marjorie G. Perloff: 'A Ritual for Being Born Twice': Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar
from "Contemporary Literature", Vol. 13, No. 4, Autumn, 1972, pp. 507-22.
- Al Strangeways: 'The Boot in the Face': The Problem of the Holocaust in the Poetry of Sylvia Plath
from "Contemporary Literature", Vol. XXXVII, No. 3, Fall, 1996, pp. 370-90.
In this essay, Strangeways examines Plath's references to the Holocaust in light of her preoccupation with
personal history and myth, female victimization, and the specter of nuclear war. Strangeways concludes that Plath does not simply reduce the
atrocity of the Holocaust to metaphor, but draws attention to the ambiguous and potentially dangerous interrelationship between "myth, history,
and poetry in the post-Holocaust world."
- M. D. Uroff: Sylvia Plath and Confessional Poetry: A Reconsideration
from "Iowa Review", Vol. 8, No. 1, 1977, pp. 104-15.
In this essay, Uroff contrasts Plath's poetic voice with the confessional mode developed by American poet Robert
Lowell. Uroff contends that Plath, unlike Lowell, incorporates abstracted autobiographic detail in her poetry only to amplify or dramatize feelings
of pain and sorrow rather than to induce actual self-revelation.
- Linda Wagner: Plath's 'Ariel': 'Auspicious Gales'
from "Concerning Poetry", Vol. 10, No. 2, 1977, pp. 5-7.
In this essay, Wagner draws attention to the complexity of Plath's poetry in Ariel which, as the critic notes, invokes
archetypal imagery and the paradoxical portrayal of suffering as survival to create depth of feeling and insight.
- Linda Wagner: Plath's The Bell Jar as Female 'Bildungsroman'
from "Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal", Vol. 12, Nos. 1-6, 1986, pp. 55-68.
- Modern American Poetry: Sylvia Plath biographical and critical articles (on Ariel, Daddy, Tulips, Lady Lazarus, the Bee poems and other poems), "A Multimedia Companion to
Anthology of Modern American Poetry" (Recommended Link!)
student papers and essays
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- Charlotte Crofts: "The Peanut Crunching Crowd" in the Work of Sylvia
Plath: Holocaust as Spectacle?
Department of English and American Studies of the University of Manchester.
This paper analyses and justifies Plath's use of
holocaust images in her poetry and concentrates on two poems: The Thin People and Lady Lazarus
- Kristen D'Elia: Analyzing Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar through a Feminist Lens
by an American highschool student, 2003. The paper looks at The Bell Jar from a feminist point of view.
- Maria Theresa Ib: Mind Over Myth?: The Divided Self in the Poetry of Sylvia Plath
A very good and very well researched paper on the image of the double in Plath's poetry. Taking its point of departure in the
academic research she conducted for her undergraduate thesis, The Magic Mirror: A Study of the Double in Two of Dostoevsky’s Novels,
this paper explores the theme of the divided self in the poetry of Sylvia Plath. It discusses the argument put forth by
Judith Kroll in her study, Chapters in a Mythology: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath, that Plath’s use of this theme is based
not on mental illness or psychoanalysis, but rather on folk-tale, literature and myth. In other words, that the image of the
divided self which Plath employs in her poetry may be seen as “the mythical archetype known as the Doppelgänger.
- Michelle Kinsey-Clinton: The Willing Domesticity of Sylvia Plath: A
Rebuttal of the "Feminist" Label
a paper by a Java programmer
with an interest in literature and the arts.
She says: Sylvia Plath has been posthumously categorized and pigeonholed to suicidal
little housewife bits, and in this paper I take exception with those who would
brand Plath a 'feminist' author.
- Malcolm Alcoff: Sylvia the Vampire Slayer
an essay exploring the meaning of
the vampire metaphor in Daddy,
by an English major from Bloomsburg University, 1998.
- An essay regarding the themes of death in the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton
Newspaper and Magazine Articles