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Sylvia Plath

By October 9, 2013

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The Bell JarIt's an old, old story (one not at all unfamiliar when we study the tortured lives of our favorite authors and poets).

Sylvia Plath ended her own life; and her family was left to pick up the shattered fragments she'd left behind. Her untimely death still sparks discussion (and controversy)--about death, grieving, loss and moving on. But, her life and the literary legacy she left us is by no means undermined by the way that her life ended. There's so much more to Sylvia Plath, and the personal and passionate aspects of her works will continue to incite debate and leave us with the impression that she is/was larger-than-life.

Perhaps it's a sick fascination, but we--as readers and writers--want to know more about Sylvia Plath: the mystery of her life and death (something in her words still reverberates us to the core). Can we hope to understand her? We want to know what made her tick--any personal insights into her life, works, and death.

Ultimately, we are left with her words. And, they may offer some insight into whether she finally found peace. As she wrote in The Bell Jar: "Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace."

Somewhere in the profusion of lines and letters, you may catch a glimpse of Sylvia Plath: "Can you understand? Someone, somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that - I love life. But it is hard, and I have so much - so very much to learn."

Cover Art HarperCollins.


October 12, 2010 at 4:48 pm
(1) julie says:

I have always felt very sorry for Ted Hughes, being blamed for Sylvia taking her own life. Yes, he was unfaithful to her, but she was also mentally unstable, and had been for many, many years.Having tried and failed to commit suicide many times before, it was really only a matter of time before she succeeded. Nothing and no-one could have stopped her.
I love her poetry, and thought Gwenyth Paltrow played her superbly, with all the fire and passion she had in her life.

October 13, 2010 at 12:41 pm
(2) Mayuram V.Sankaran says:

If she was mentally unstable and had attempted suicide many times and eventually succeeded, the blame goes to the society in which she lived and the bad times that that society itself was going through! Anyhow, unlike ordinary mortals, she will be remembered for a long time because of her literary output!

October 15, 2010 at 11:27 pm
(3) guardian says:

Plath had issues that can not be blamed, necessarily, on society. One diagnosis that leaps to mind is that she was bipolar. Some would guess schizophrenic. Blame that on society…

Fierce, troubled, tortured soul who has found her peace.

October 10, 2013 at 8:04 am
(4) Yvonne says:

For Ted Hughes to have stepped into the ring with someone unafraid and willing to die if things got bad and then to take it there himself by not loving her enough, was to sign his own name as cause of death on her death certificate. I don’t pity him, he was well aware of what she was and what she had done previously. You can’t throw a rock into the river and expect it not to sink. Real love could have saved her, false love finished her.

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