“Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.” Sylvia Plath’s life was an emotional rollercoaster for the short years that seemed to, according to Plath, last forever. Between her father’s death, suicide attempts, and odd death, one might understand how the poems written seemed to be dark.
Sylvia Plath created the literary works Lady Lazarus, Daddy, and For A Fatherless Son as an outlet for all of the pain and suffering that was endured during that hard and aching lifetime. Now that some tension has been relieved from the worry that this will be an uninteresting project, the biography is next to come. The biography will discuss key events in Plath’s life. These events include: birth, family, childhood, schooling, adulthood, and death. Sylvia Plath was born on October 27, 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts. Plath was born in the Jennie M Robinson Memorial maternity building at the Massachusetts Memorial Hospital to Otto Emil Plath and Aurelia Schober Plath.
Also, two and a half years later, Palth became an older sister. Being known as “gifted but troubled poet”, Plath’s work was more a confessional style. Like musician Beethoven, Plath found a love for writing at a young age and also kept a journal. Plath’s father died of diabetes mellitus a week and a half after his daughter’s eighth birthday.
As a child, Plath was held back in fifth grade to be with kids of the same age group, while also acing all of the classes throughout junior high and high school, as well. Plath’s first poem was in the Boston Herald at only age eight. Just after high school, Plath was published nationally for the first time during 1950 in the Christian Science Monitor. After publishing a number of works, Plath received a scholarship to Smith College where later studying. Plath then spent time in New York during the summer of 1953 as a guest editor for Mademoiselle magazine. It sounds all good and dandy, but soon after Plath tried to commit suicide by taking sleeping pills. Plath left a note saying, “Have gone for a long walk.
Will be home tomorrow.” After leaving the note, Plath took a blanket, a glass of water, and sleeping pills down to the house cellar and took so many pills that it caused unconsciousness. Plath’s depression could have been caused by being declined by Harvard, but it might be a slight missing of the late Otto Plath, the text does not say. Sylvia Plath recovered in a mental health facility after having treatments and later resumed studying at Smith College in 1955. Plath messed around with some guys but left for Cambridge, England after getting a Fulbright Scholarship.
At Newnham College in Cambridge, England, Plath met Ted Hughes, Plath’s only husband. In 1956 Hughes and Plath decided to get married, but goodness those two had a stormy relationship. Hughes was a cheater, but Plath was in love with that cheater. Both ended up having two children, Frieda and Nicholas, together but the marriage was failing. Depression was one thing that hit Sylvia Plath hard. Plath fell into depression, again, after Hughes cheated, again. Plath wrote one novel in that short lifetime called The Bell Jar, which basically talks about one woman’s struggles and mental breakdown.
Plath committed suicide on February 11, 1963. A note was written by Plath to the neighbor downstairs instructing to call the doctor, but Plath was already dead when the note was read. Making sure Frieda and Nicholas were safe, Sylvia Plath locked herself in the kitchen, closing off any sort of airflow, and was gassed to death with gas stove. One’s career never dies, but simply lives eternally in the authors legacy. Sylvia Plath left a sense of darkness that was seen everyday, a form of “the norm”. Plath has left people the fact that accepting the darkness in one’s life is okay, because one can find beauty in a whole new light.
After reading the biography of Sylvia Plath, more is yet to come! One will learn how Plath used the literary works Lady Lazarus, Daddy, and For A Fatherless Son as an outlet for all of the pain and suffering that was endured during that hard and aching lifetime by reading the provided summaries. The literary works were chosen at random, but the works are highly known throughout the poetry community. The first poem to be summarized is Lady Lazarus. Plath starts out by saying that something has done and happens every 10 years. Plath is being shown as a “walking miracle with bright skin” with a heavy right foot and featureless, fine face as a Jew linen. Plath asks an unknown enemy to peel off a napkin from the face,also asking if terrifying.
Plath talks more about features and promises that the nasty breath will go away in a day. Saying the flesh from Plath’s face that was lost in the grave will be restored and a smiling 30 year-old woman will appear. Plath has 9 times to die like a cat and death number 3 has just been knocked out, completing one each decade. A crowd shoves in to see the lady only to see the same skin and bones woman from the first accident and the second intentional death. She was rocked shut like a seashell and had to be called back by people and get worms picked off her. Plath sees dying as an art and something that is done very well. Death is being done to make life feel like hell and to feel real, and dying is easy to do.
The woman comes back in broad day to everything the same. As people shout “A miracle!”, Plath thinks the gawkers should be charged to see the scars, hear the beating heart, or receive a word, touch, blood, hair or clothes from the lucky woman. Plath compares the doctor as the enemy and that his most valuable piece of work is Plath. There is no underestimation of the doctor’s concern, but as the doctor picks through Plath’s ashes, there is nothing there but a cake of soap, a wedding ring, and a gold filling. Plath tells God and Lucifer to beware because Sylvia Plath will rise out of the ash and “eat men like air”.The second poem to be summarized is Daddy. Sylvia Plath starts off by saying certain emotions like that there has been a foot that has been in a black shoe for 30 years, poor and white, and not daring to make a sound or sneeze.
Plath says that Otto (the father) needed to be killed but he died before Plath had the chance to kill him. Plath starts describing Otto as heavy and being compared to a statue peeking out of the ocean. There is talk about how Plath used to pray for Otto to come back, and there is search for Otto’s Polish hometown. But, learning from a Polack friend, the town name Plath has given is very common between a dozen or two towns. So, Plath could never figure out where Otto stepped foot, or root.
Plath could not really speak and thought every German man was Otto while also thinking the German language was heinous.Plath started talking like a Jew and basically thought “I might as well be one”. Plath starts to believe that blames a bit of Jewishness in the gypsy ancestor and odd luck. Plath says that fear has always been apart of the relationship with Otto and starts naming off things Plath is scared of, whether it being Otto’s appearance or military position. Plath states Otto is not like God, but like a swastika that doesn’t let anything through.
Plath goes on about how every woman loves a Fascist even with the brutality that comes with it. Plath has a picture of Otto standing at a blackboard with specific features. Plath’s broken heart is caused by a black man who is compared to Otto. Plath starts talking about how the family buried Otto only when Plath was 10 and later tried to join Otto at age 20. People found Plath after the death attempt and was glued back to normal. There is a promise made to Otto that Plath is finally through and that the voices can’t get through because the telephone is off at the root. Plath states that if there is one man killed, then there is really two killed and compares Otto to a vampire. Plath talks about how there is a steak in Otto’s heart and the villagers rejoice by dancing on the dead body because Otto Plath was never liked by the villagers.
The third and final poem to be summarized is For A Fatherless Son. Sylvia Plath starts off by saying that one will notice the absence because the feeling will be right next to you. Plath starts comparing the absence to a dead Australian gum tree and states that the sky has a lack of attention.
Plath starts talking about the person being dumb but loving the stupidity. Plath’s face is found while looking in the blind mirror of stupidity, and the person just laughs. Plath thinks fondly of doing all of the childish things, but the person may touch what’s wrong, like “the small skulls, the smashed blue hills, or the godawful hush”. But, Plath states, until then the person’s smiles are very valuable.Now that the poems have been summarized, the poems must be analyzed.
Sylvia Plath created the literary works Lady Lazarus, Daddy, and For A Fatherless Son as an outlet for all of the pain and suffering that was endured during that hard and aching lifetime. The analyses will show how Plath used poetry as an outlet in the works provided.The first poem to be analyzed is Lady Lazarus. This poem is about the realization of the death that takes over Sylvia’s life, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not, every decade to make everything in life feel more real. Sylvia Plath expresses the feelings that the depression caused to have in the poem Lady Lazarus. Not really in the first couple of stanzas, but in lines 13-20 Plath states, “The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?/The sour breath/Will vanish in a day.
/Soon, soon the flesh/The grave cave ate will be/At home on me/And I a smiling woman./I am only thirty.” This is the first example of Plath showing the belief that, even after trying to commit suicide, everything will go back to the way everything was before the attempt. The second example follows, stating, “This is Number Three./What a trash/To annihilate each decade./What a million filaments./The peanut-crunching crowd/Shoves to see” (Plath lines 22-27). By using these words, Plath is trying to get at that the people in life were never concerned, but really only wanting to be there and watch the show Plath put on, causing Plath to feel like she was being viewed as a circus animal.
So basically, “She calls them the “peanut crunching crowd” suggesting that they are only in her life to scoff at her and make a spectacle of her.” (poemanalysis.com). The third example was founded in lines 43-48. In these lines, Sylvia Plath states, “Dying/Is an art, like everything else./I do it exceptionally well./I do it so it feels like hell./I do it so it feels real.
/I guess you could say I’ve a call.” Saying this, Plath feels like dying is the only thing that can be done by her and it comes easy. The fourth and final example was located a little further down in the poem. In lines 57-64, Sylvia Plath says, “There is a charge/For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge/For the hearing of my heart–/It really goes./And there is a charge, a very large charge/For a word or a touch/Or a bit of blood/Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.” There is a lot going on in this example, but the message is clear.
Sylvia Plath feels like, since people like to look so much like there is a tourist attraction around, there should be a charge. Overall, there are many different feelings in this poem that range from anger to normality.The second poem being analyzed is Daddy.
This poem is about Sylvia Plath’s feelings of hurt and dislike toward Otto Plath. The first example that was found was in lines 16-24. In these lines, Plath states, “In the German tongue, in the Polish town/Scraped flat by the roller/Of wars, wars, wars./But the name of the town is common./My Polack friend/Says there are a dozen or two.
/So I never could tell where you/Put your foot, your root,/I never could talk to you.” Plath is feeling guilt and sadness about not being able find the place Otto was located during the war. Plath went so far as to find a friend to help figure out the town that Otto was located in, but the town was never found.The second example was located very close to the first example. In lines 28-35, Sylvia Plath goes in by saying, “I could hardly speak.
/I thought every German was you./And the language obscene/An engine, an engine/Chuffing me off like a Jew./A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen./I began to talk like a Jew./I think I may well be a Jew.” Plath has very strong feelings towards Otto that cannot be missed in this poem. Likewise, “the speaker begins to reveal to the readers that she felt like a Jew under the reign of her German father.
” (poemanalysis.com). Plath’s simile to a Jew is so powerful that one can only imagine the feelings that were felt during this time.The third example was located in lines 46-50. In these lines, Plath says, “Not God but a swastika/So black no sky could squeak through./Every woman adores a Fascist,/The boot in the face, the brute/Brute heart of a brute like you.” Sylvia Plath is starting to compare Otto to things and the first thing that is compared is Otto to God, saying that Otto is basically the opposite.
Plath feels that Otto takes over and that nothing can change how everything is dictated.Plath repeats brute over and over again to emphasize the feeling that Otto is a violent damage in life.The fourth and final example was located right next to the last example. In lines 51-56, Sylvia Plath states, “You stand at the blackboard, daddy,/In the picture I have of you,/A cleft in your chin instead of your foot/But no less a devil for that, no not/Any less the black man who/Bit my pretty red heart in two.” Now, Plath is comparing Otto to the Devil, and the feelings shown in this example are very prominent. Plath felt heartbroken after the death of Otto, and thought only the work of a terrible person would leave and abandon family.
Overall, the main feeling that Plath felt and expressed throughout this poem was anger towards her father.The third and final poem being analyzed is For A Fatherless Son. This poem is about the feelings that Sylvia Plath gained after the death of her father. Unlike most of Plath’s poems, this one is more calm instead of drastic and dark. The first example I found was in lines 1-3.
In these lines, Plath states, “You will be aware if the absence, presently,/Growing beside you, like a tree,/A death tree, color gone, an Australian gum tree–“. Plath makes her feelings very easily recognized in these lines with or without the simile that was used. Plath expresses loneliness that was clearly there due to the absence of Otto.
Plath’s use of the simile gives the poem more depth and the use of imagery lets one actually feel what Plath was going through with the use of sight.The second example was founded fairly close to the last one. In lines 5-7, Sylvia Plath states, “And a sky like a pig’s backside, an utter lack of attention./But right now you are dumb.
/And I love your stupidity,”. What Plath is trying to get at is that the feeling of absence took over to the point that something as big as the sky could not even be focused on. The only thing that could be focused on was the lack of Otto being there.The third example was found a couple of lines down.
In lines 8-10, Plath says, “The blind mirror of it. I look in/And find no face but my own, and you think that’s funny./It is good for me”. It is harder to find Plath’s feelings in this example, but the feelings are there. With the lack of a father figure, Plath found out how hard life was. Daughters usually find comfort in the father figure and without that, Plath had to find independence, which was good.
In other words, “Instead of looking and seeing a face formed by her father, she says her own, which is good for her. it allowed her to develop her own.” (hwood295.wordpress.com).The fourth and final example that was founded was pretty close to the last one. In lines 12-14, Plath finishes out the poem with, “One day you may touch what’s wrong–/The small skulls, the smashed blue hills, the godawful hush./Till then your smiles are found money.
” This is a good couple of lines that indicate Plath’s overall feelings of this poem. Plath never got to really know Otto, but yet there was enough knowledge there to know Otto well. Plath feels that Otto will never get to know the hardships that life will bring later, but the smiles from the memories has pushed Plath to work hard. Overall, the feelings Plath had the most in this poem was independence from the fact that there was no father-figure to guide Plath throughout life. Sylvia Plath created the literary works Lady Lazarus, Daddy, and For A Fatherless Son as an outlet for all of the pain and suffering that was endured during that hard and aching lifetime. The analyses were used to show the feelings that Plath felt that were caused by depression.
In Lady Lazarus, Plath’s overall feelings ranged from normality to anger. In Daddy, Plath’s overall feeling was anger towards her father. In For A Fatherless Son, Plath’s overall feeling was a sense of independence. What all of this means is that depression can cause one to react in different ways at different times, but one can find an outlet for all the pain that is being caused. I originally chose Sylvia Plath because she was one of the closest authors/poets to a case of schizophrenia as I could get without getting a “too new” person. At first, I was kind of on edge and didn’t think I would like her because she seemed too dramatic, but she grew on me. I have came to realize that she had a tough life and sometimes handled it in an irrational way, but without it she may not have been a poet.
I find her as one of the most amazing poets because her stuff is real. She uses real feelings that she felt and real things that she did to create her poems, and I respect her for that. Sylvia Plath may seem crazy, but there is a method to her madness. It is sad to say that she lived a short life and had committed suicide. Suicide is a real thing and has been for a long time.
I did not realize that suicide was as big of a deal back then, but it still happened. But, everyone finds an outlet for depression whether they like it or not, and I think Sylvia Plath’s outlet shaped poetry for the better.