Sylvia Plath and Mirror

“The blood jet is
poetry / there is no
stopping it.”
A brief biography:
• Born in Boston on October 27,
1932, to Aurelia Schober and
Otto Plath
• Idolised her father and longed to
please him
• In 1940, when Sylvia was 8, her
father died and she published
her first poem.
• Her mother introduced her to
poetry which she loved
After discovering
poetry, Sylvia said I
“had fallen into a
new way of being
Sylvia Plath as a
young woman
• At school she was a top student,
excelling in English
• Suffers mental & emotional
• Is rejected for a Harvard writing
• First suicide attempt –overdose.
Receives electric shock treatment.
• She writes about these experiences in
her semi-autobiographical novel The
Bell Jar
“I still do not know
myself. Perhaps I never
will. I am afraid of getting
older. I am afraid of
getting married…I want,
I think, to be
omniscient…I think I
would like to call myself
the girl who wanted to be
God. . . . Never, never,
will I reach the perfection
I long for with all my
soul. . . .” (diary, age 17)
Sylvia goes to England
• Wins a Fulbright Scholarship
to England
• 1956 She met Ted Hughes,
a poet, at a Cambridge
University party
• According to her journal, at
this meeting he kissed her
and she bit him on the
cheek, drawing blood.
• It was an intense courtship
and they were married within
He was “very simply the
only man I’ve ever met
whom I could never
boss.” (Sylvia to friends)
Motherhood & Writing
• Her and her husband return
to England and begin writing
• In 1960 Plath had her first
child, Frieda, and published
her first book of poetry, ‘The
• In 1962, following a traumatic
appendix operation and the
birth of their son Nicholas,
Plath's writing became more
Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes
• Sylvia & Ted’s relationship was
passionate and tumultuous
• She was attracted to his physical
power, his way with animals esp
owls, his reputation as a poet, and
appreciated his encouragement of
her poetry
• She feared losing him
1962 – the beginning of
the end
• June: 2nd suicide attempt
– driving car off the road
• July: Discovers Ted’s
affair with Assia Weevill.
• Sept: They separate
• Oct: She writes 26
poems in one month
• Dec: She takes her 2
children and moves into
a maisonette in London
• She prepares Ariel, a
collection of 41 poems
The End: 1963
• The Bell Jar is published under
a pseudonym and receives
good reviews
• She is depressed, isolated and
mentally unstable
• February 1963, in one of the
coldest winters in English
history, she succeeded in
taking her life
• Her body was discovered the
following morning.
• She was survived by her 2
• 1965: Ariel was published.
• 1982 she is posthumously
awarded the Pulitzer Prize for
Literary Device:
Poem Type: Lyric
• Written in 1961 but
published after her death by
her husband 10 years later.
• It deals with the fear of age
and self-reflection