The Broken Heart of Sylvia Plath
"Dying is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well."
Sylvia Plath has long been recognized as a poetic icon. After committing suicide in her thirties, many of her previously unrecognized works gained notoriety and praise. Throughout her life, she struggled to be accepted into the literary world. After writing many poems, short stories and "The Bell Jar," she remained unsatisfied with the success and momentum she gained with each, and took her own life. It is through her words we see a woman that used her writing as a means of expression, many times expressing grief, sadness and anger. Plath began writing a series of poems shortly before her death that provide is with an opportunity to see the internal conflicts she felt. Many of these poems focus on death and suffering. Plath uses death imagery in poems found in Ariel to represent her need to escape reality and therefore dissociate herself from emotional and physical existence. I will show how Plath's life experiences and more importantly, her reactions to them, have contributed to her depressive, death-obsessed state. I will also provide examples from several of her poems demonstrating Plath's use of death imagery and analyze why it is used in the way that it is. Lastly, I will show how many of her poems from Ariel demonstrate Plath's self-loathing, and her need to feel a sense of success-even if that success comes from an accomplished suicide.
Although Sylvia Plath had many opportunities throughout her life, and accomplished what many only dream of, we see how the few tragedies she did endure, affected her. At age eight her father died from complications related to diabetes. Plath had been very close to her father, and while not much is mentioned of him in "The Bell Jar," the book that is thought to be Plath's autobiography, we see the internal struggles she felt over his death in her poems found in Ariel.One of her highly acclaimed poems "Daddy," shows her sadness and anger surface. This poem is written in an angry tone, as if she is struggling to understand something that is unclear to her- primarily the death of her father. Plath attempted suicide twice prior to writing the poems found in Ariel, and we see her expressing a need to die so that she can be with her father again. "I was ten when they buried you/At twenty I tried to die/And get back, back, back to you/I thought even the bones would do" (51). We see in these lines how the loss of her father has affected her life. When she says, "I thought even the bones would do" she is lacking realistic thought. She feels that just having some small portion of her father back would provide her with a sense of happiness, although it is highly evident this is not possible. This shows Plath's confusion over her father's death and her need to feel close to him. Later we see her speaking of a relationship that resembles more a marital one than that of...