Presentation on theme: "The Writer The Poet The Woman. (1932 -- 1963) Born to middle class parents in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, Sylvia Plath published her first poem when."— Presentation transcript:
(1932 -- 1963) Born to middle class parents in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, Sylvia Plath published her first poem when she was eight. Sensitive, intelligent, compelled toward perfection in everything she attempted, she was, on the surface, a model daughter, popular in school, earning straight A's, winning the best prizes. By the time she entered Smith College on a scholarship in 1950 she already had an impressive list of publications, and while at Smith she wrote over four hundred poems. Life…
Plath's surface perfection was however underlain by grave personal discontinuities, some of which doubtless had their origin in the death of her father (he was a college professor and an expert on bees) when she was eight. During the summer following her junior year at Smith, having returned from a stay in New York City where she had been a student ``guest editor'' at Mademoiselle Magazine, Plath nearly succeeded in killing herself by swallowing sleeping pills. She later described this experience in an autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, published in 1963. After a period of recovery involving electroshock and psychotherapy Plath resumed her pursuit of academic and literary success, graduating from Smith with honors and winning a Fulbright scholarship to study at Cambridge, England.
In 1956 she married the English poet Ted Hughes, and in 1960, when she was 28, her first book, The Colossus, was published in England. The poems in this book---formally precise, well wrought---show clearly the dedication with which Plath had served her apprenticeship; yet they give only glimpses of what was to come in the poems she would begin writing early in 1961. She and Hughes settled for a while in an English country village in Devon, but less than two years after the birth of their first child the marriage broke apart. The winter of 1962-63, one of the coldest in centuries, found Plath living in a small London flat, now with two children, ill with flu and low on money. The hardness of her life seemed to increase her need to write, and she often worked between four and eight in the morning, before the children woke, sometimes finishing a poem a day. In these last poems it is as if some deeper, powerful self has grabbed control; death is given a cruel physical allure and psychic pain becomes almost tactile.
On February 11, 1963, Plath killed herself with cooking gas at the age of 30. Two years later Ariel, a collection of some of her last poems, was published; this was followed by Crossing the Water and Winter Trees in 1971, and, in 1981, The Collected Poems appeared, edited by Ted Hughes. Poppies in July was written in July of 1962. Source: http://www.ibiblio.org/cheryb/women/Sylvia-Plath--biohttp://www.ibiblio.org/cheryb/women/Sylvia-Plath--bio
Plath's semi-autobiographical novel was published in 1963 and in the US in 1971, which her mother wished to block. Describing the compilation of the book to her mother, she wrote, "What I've done is to throw together events from my own life, fictionalizing to add color- it's a pot boiler really, but I think it will show how isolated a person feels when he is suffering a breakdown.... I've tried to picture my world and the people in it as seen though the distorting lens of a bell jar. She described her novel as "an autobiographical apprentice work which I had to write in order to free myself from the past. She dated a Yale senior named Dick Norton during her junior year. Norton, upon whom the character of Buddy in The Bell Jar is based, contracted tuberculosis and was treated at the Ray Brook Sanatorium near Saranac Lake. While visiting Norton, Plath broke her leg skiing, an incident that was fictionalized in the novel. The Bell Jar
The Bell Jar is American writer and poet Sylvia Plath's only novel, which was originally published under the pseudonym "Victoria Lucas" in 1963. The novel is semi-autobiographical with the names of places and people changed. The book is often regarded as a roman à clef**, with the protagonist's descent into mental illness paralleling Plath's own experiences with what may have been clinical depression. Plath committed suicide a month after its first UK publication. The novel was published under Plath's name for the first time in 1967 and was not published in the United States until 1971, pursuant to the wishes of Plath's mother and husband, Ted Hughes. The novel has been translated into many languages. **French for "novel with a key", is a phrase used to describe a novel about real life, overlaid with a façade of fiction. The fictitious names in the novel represent real people, and the "key" is the relationship between the nonfiction and the fiction.
The novel is written using a series of flashbacks that show up parts of Esther's past. The flashbacks primarily deal with Esther's relationship with Buddy Willard. The reader also learns more about her early college years. They help the reader to understand where her fear of men and her hatred of her mother comes from. The Bell Jar addresses the question of socially acceptable identity. It examines Esther's "quest to forge her own identity, to be herself rather than what others expect her to be. Esther is expected to become a housewife, and a self-sufficient woman, without the options to achieve independence. Esther feels she is a prisoner to domestic duties and she fears the loss of her inner self. The Bell Jar sets out to highlight the problems with oppressive patriarchal society in mid-20th Century America. The men in Esther's life are all oppressive, whether it is in a physical manner or an emotional one. Style and Major Themes
Esther Greenwood, the protagonist of the story, is a mentally unstable young adult who develops the idea that she is inadequate while living in New York. She is tormented with the idea and tries to commit suicide, believing that death is freedom after her father died when she was 9. Joan, an old friend of Esthers, is mentally unstable and eventually commits suicide after living in the asylum with Esther for a while. Doctor Nolan is Esthers doctor at the countryside hospital. She is a slim young woman who manages to connect with Esther more than any other doctor. She also administers shock therapy to Esther and does it correctly, which leads to positive results. Doctor Gordon is the first doctor Esther sees. He subjects her to traumatic shock treatments that haunt her for the rest of her time in medical care. Mrs. Greenwood, Esthers mother, is a woman who only wants the best for Esther, but is not always sure how to go about giving her that. Buddy Willard is Esthers former boyfriend from her hometown. Esther adored him until he slept with a waitress who worked at a restaurant with him. He proposes to her at one point, and Esther laughs it off and then argues with him about how unrealistic and hypocritical he is. Doreen, a rebellious young woman, is Esthers roommate at the hotel in New York. Esther wants to please Doreen, and spends most of her time with her. Constatin, a simultaneous interpreter with a foreign accent, got Esthers phone number from Mrs. Willard. They go on a date together and Esther sleeps the night at his apartment. Mrs. Willard is Buddy Willard's mother, a dedicated homemaker, who is determined to set up Buddy and Esther. Mr. Willard, Buddy Willard's father, Mrs. Willard's husband, and a good family friend, he is kind to Esther. Irwin, a tall but rather ugly young man, is the man to whom Esther loses her virginity, and also causes her to hemorrhage. He is a "very well paid professor of mathematics" and invites Esther to have coffee, which leads to her having sex with him, which leads to Esther having to go to the hospital to have help getting her to stop bleeding. Jay Cee is Esthers strict boss who is very intelligent, so "Her plug-ugly look don't seem to matter. She is responsible for editing Esthers work. Lenny Shepard, a wealthy young man living in New York, invites Doreen and Esther for drinks while they are on their way to a party. Doreen and Lenny start dating, taking Doreen away from Esther more often. Philomena Guinea, a wealthy elderly lady, is the person who donated the money for Esther's college scholarship. Esthers college requires the girls on scholarship to write a letter to their benefactor, thanking them. Philomena invites Esther to have a meal with her. At one point, she was also in an asylum herself, and pays for the "upscale" asylum that Esther stays in. Characters
Flat where Plath killed herself at the age of 30…
Original cover under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas…