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Precursors To Suicide In Life And Works Of Sylvia Plath And Sarah Kane

2492 words - 10 pages

Precursors to Suicide in Life and Works of Sylvia Plath and Sarah Kane

Introduction
We are going to describe factors associated with the suicidal process in lives of Sarah Kane and Sylvia Plath as reflected in the late works of these two female authors who committed suicide when they were 27 and 30 years old. Antoon Leenaars and Susanne Wenckstern (1998) have written: ?Suicide notes are probably the ultrapersonal documents. They are the unsolicited productions of the suicidal person, usually written minutes before the suicidal death.? Literary works of suicidal authors written in the time before their death can be read as such suicide notes.
It is possible that the suicidal process set off before Sarah Kane started to write her best play and before Sylvia Plath wrote the best poems of her life. They might have been either created in an attempt to set the suicidal process back (Viewegh, 1996) or as a pure manifestation of this suicidal process which might have brought about sudden burst of strong internal creative powers. In both cases we might take these works as suicide notes and poetic accounts on a dramatic search for the meaning of life and existence.
Nevertheless no suicide note is able to give a complete account of the suicidal mind. Such a note must be put in the context of the individual life as Shneidman said (1980) and in the context of broad theoretical formulations about suicide and personality functioning in general as stated by Leenaars (1988) if one wants to understand the motives lying behind.
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Risk Factors for Suicide
Very concise description of risk factors for suicide has been offered by Leenaars (1988) and is based on studies of 10 theories of suicide. There are 5 subcategories included under the intrapsychic factors. These are unbearable psychological pain, cognitive constriction, indirect expressions, inability to adjust and disrupted ego strength. Interpersonal relations, rejection-aggression and identification-egression are then the three of interpsychic factors.
Risk Factors for Suicide in Life and Late Works of Sylvia Plath and Sarah Kane
Since there have been a lot of biographies of Sylvia Plath written, we may dare to say, that all these risk factors for suicide have occurred during her life with most of them being present also during the last eight months that were full of traumatic and stressful events and psychic suffering.
There are no poems left and probably even not written by Sylvia Plath between May 28 and June 30 1962. There are only few poems written during the time before and during the separation from Ted ? 3 in July, only 1 in August and 2 in September ? the month the couple separated. Then, October was the month when she created 25 poems, the most of the poems written during her last 8 months. In November she wrote 10 poems, then only 2 in December, 7 in January and 6 in five days in February.
We have analyzed the poems of Plath and the play 4:48 Psychosis of Kane1 using both 8 categories...

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