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&Quot;Sylvia Plath Feminine Side Of The Feminist Icon&Quot;

2123 words - 8 pages

Sylvia Plath was a typical example of her generation, inpatient and greedy for life but this description has a bit different meaning. Plath indeed desired artistic fulfilment but she wanted to be an ideal wife and mother at the same time. When Ted Hughes published his first poetry volume "The Hawk in the Rain" she was very happy that she will follow his footsteps.

Throughout their marriage she was in the shadow of her husband and we can argue whether it was her conscious choice and to what extend it was the result of her times.

During the fifties woman who did not feel that her life as a housewife could be satisfactory and fulfilling was considered strange. At the end of the fifties the average age of marriage had actually fallen to 20. It was usual for girls to quit colleges or high schools and get married.

Furthermore, education was treated as a bar to marriage. During the decade housewifery tasks were glorified as a "proof of a complete woman." Becoming good wife was the dream of all young women. Such stereotype was shown everywhere on TV, in advertising and in the movies. There were loving couples, embracing under the trees of the new suburban house with 3 or 4 children in the playground. That was the picture of the happy family of the 50's.

Those were the times when Sylvia Plath was entering her adulthood as a woman. According to Janet Malcolm, the author of "The Silent Woman. Sylvia Palth and Ted Hughes" Plath is a pattern picture of hypocritical times of the 50's. Under her happy face mask she hides the second one, paralysed with fear and uncertainty. She grew up in the spirit of the programmed positive 50's, believing that her marriage will be like a diamond, everlasting. Ted was supposed to be a man for the whole life. Sylvia loved him with all her heart. Her desire was to be an ideal wife, lover, mother of his children. Critic Sheryl Meyering states that Sylvia Plath's intense desire to be accepted by men and to eventually marry and have children was purely a product of the constructive 1950's social mentality during which the author came to womanhood (xi).

She was considered a feminist writer of great importance . In a book by Ellen Moers, the author of "Literary Women", writes about Plath: "No writer has meant more to the current feminist movement "(qtd. In Wagner 5) and even today, Plath is a literary symbol of the women's rights movement.

However, when we search her works in order to find something which would refute this view, there are some poems in her oeuvre which do so. Her work proves that she came to terms with the role of the 50's woman. A desire to be a beloved and loving wife and even stronger desire to have children and become a mother are common themes of her poetry. In 1953, at the age of 20, Plath wrote in her journal:

I must find a strong potential powerful mate who can counter my vibrant dynamic self: sexual and intellectual, and while comradely, I must admire him: respect and admiration...

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