Psych Plath Essay

1947 words - 8 pages

When Sylvia Plath was told her father died at the tender age of nine, she bitterly said, “I’ll never speak to God again.” In her brief but indispensable writing career, Plath distinguished herself in the poetical realm with her body of work that includes but is not limited to poems, short stories, and one semi-autobiographical novel. Her legacy lives on through her dark themes laden with powerful images such as the moon and skulls, while a father-type figure acts as a significant force either as a central antagonistic power or an influential shadow looming in the background. Brooding thoughts and despondent emotion overcome the reader when faced with one of Plath’s numerous works such as “Daddy,” “The Colossus,” and “Lady Lazarus.” Sometimes straightforward in understanding, Plath’s works contain intermittently placed, unique choices in diction like “mule bray, pig-grunt” throughout her works. On February 11, 1963, Plath was found with her head placed in her kitchen oven (death by carbon monoxide), yet she continues to resonate with people to this day; is it because we are able to relate to her melancholy and heartache? Or because of our sickening-interest in her suicide and the events that led to it? Maybe it is both. Because of her father’s death at a young age, Sylvia Plath’s poems underlies a theme regarding her suicidal demise and victimization at the hands of a patriarchal society, particularly from her husband, Ted Hughes, and late father, Otto Plath.
Otto Plath’s death was a traumatic event for young Sylvia and lead to some of her later emotional troubles, consequently affecting her for the rest of her life. In the beginning of Plath’s poem, “The Colossus,” the speaker struggles in repairing the listener who has taken on the form of the central wrecked statue in the poem: “In the act of repairing the huge statue, Plath struggles to come to terms with her childhood. By forming the gestalt (the father "put together entirely") she gains release from the painful, piecemeal memory of her authoritarian father…” (Broe). Plath so desperately craves a father figure, and this translates onto paper as the speaker of “The Colossus” attempting to piece together the listener, or her father. Although she is able to put the statue back together, he is not the same; he cannot act as well as she hopes, so she tries to accept him nonetheless. The speaker of Plath’s poem “Lady Lazarus” “…brags darkly about her prowess at such [suicide] attempts (‘I do it so it feels real’), marvels at her survival of her attempt at age twenty (and of a near-fatal ‘accident’ a decade earlier), and addresses an unnamed tormentor as ‘Herr Doktor’ and ‘Herr Enemy’” (Bawer). When poets write, I believe there is a part of them that goes into their work; Plath’s several suicide attempts are mentioned in many of her poems, including “Lady Lazarus.” Furthermore, the nameless Herr Doktor and Herr Enemy are left unidentifiable because Plath intends them to be the males who have...

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