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GCSE: Sylvia Plath
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Sylvia Plath's biography
- 1 Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) was an American poet, novelist and short story writer.
- 2 Her father died when she was eight and this had a profound effect on her – see her Daddy poem.
- 3 She suffered from depression. Her breakdown, subsequent suicide attempt and the electroconvulsive therapy that followed are recorded in her novel 'The Bell Jar' and her poems.
- 4 Academically gifted she went on to win a Fulbright Scholarship. She then met and married the poet Ted Hughes and had two children.
- 5 Hughes and Plath separated in 1962. She committed suicide by gassing herself in the oven the following year. She is the first poet to be posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
How to write essays on Plath's work
- 1 Use correct literary terminology to accurately analyse poetic techniques.
- 2 Focus on the question and refer to it in the introduction and conclusion.
- 3 Embed quotes to show knowledge and understanding of the poem.
- 4 As Plath's poems are very autobiographical it is necessary to include aspects of her biography in your response.
- 5 Use topic sentences at the beginning of each paragraph to focus on answering the question.
Plath's ideas and expression
- 1 Plath was the forerunner of what is now termed the 'confessional poetry' genre as many poems are autobiographical.
- 2 Her poems are full of personal and nature based imagery such as skulls, blood, hospitals and the moon.
- 3 Plath wrote from a female perspective and her work was adopted by feminists who called her a 'symbol of blighted genius'.
- 4 A lot of her poems have a sense of imprisonment and looming death, overshadowed by her father. The poetry collection Colossus deals with themes such as death, resurrection and redemption.
- 5 After she and Ted Hughes broke off their relationship she wrote over forty poems in two months with the themes of love, rage and despair.
In Morning Song, Sylvia Plath presents many ideas about the birth of her child, and the emotions and feelings that the event brings about.
The child is also described by plath as a ?new statue?, in a ?museum?, further creating the effect that the child is essentially priceless and is cherished. The fact that ?New statue? is emphasised in a sentence of its own makes it stand out to the reader, and therefore has a powerful impact. In addition, the fact that Plath is said to have stood round ?blankly as walls? portrays the fact that the child is the centrepiece of this occasion and that nothing else matters.
- Word count: 612
In the poem Morning Song what feelings does the narrator feel about the birth of her child, and how does she present it?
What is particularly interesting to note is the use of the adjective, ?gold?, which portrays the baby as a novelty, rather than an object to be loved. This idea is supported throughout the poem when the writer compared the baby to a ?statue?, again an object viewed by humans, not loved. Whilst one can argue this is just a simple use of metaphors, not to be taken literally, it can equally be argued that there is a definite lack of bond between the narrator and her baby which leads to an uncomfortable relationship.
- Word count: 596