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Death, Personal Experience and the Supernatural in Sylvia Plath's Poetry

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These five poems by Sylvia Plath are all connected by the theme of death, self-loathing, and by the presence of historical and magical concepts. Sylvia Plath uses very powerfully charged imagery of controversial and emotional topics in order to best describe her own life. Most of the poems reflect her own personal life, including the events that she has experienced and, more appropriately, the relationships and emotions that she has felt. Every single one of these five poems uses the word “dead” and the topic of death itself is prevalent in some manner. Of particular interest is the presence of her relationship with her deceased father, and her own reluctance to let go of his memory. Plath's poetry reflects her own self-loathing and disregard for her own existence. Her poems often mention her own attempts at suicide, in addition to her personal experiences with trying to get rid of her suicidal desires. In each of her poems she evokes the images of historical and mythical creatures and concepts linked with the religious and the supernatural. In addition, her poems can be connected by the idea of being held back or held down by some sort of feeling, either of desire for a loved one, escape from mortal existence or of a fantasy world.
In the poem “The Colossus”, Plath is reflecting on her relationship with her father. She depicts him as a giant statue of sorts that has broken into pieces that, despite her efforts, she can never piece back together. This poem reflects her inability to let go of her father despite him being dead for most of her life; she's thirty years old at the time. In one particular line, she says, “Thirty years now I have labored / To dredge the silt from your throat. / I am none the wiser.” (Plath 48-49) The t...


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Plath, Sylvia. "Balloons." Introduction to English Literature. Comp. Trent University Department of English. Toronto: Canadian Scholars, 2010. Print.

Plath, Sylvia. "Cut." Introduction to English Literature. Comp. Trent University Department of English. Toronto: Canadian Scholars, 2010. Print.

Plath, Sylvia. "Daddy." Introduction to English Literature. Comp. Trent University Department of English. Toronto: Canadian Scholars, 2010. Print.

Plath, Sylvia. "Lady Lazarus." Introduction to English Literature. Comp. Trent University Department of English. Toronto: Canadian Scholars, 2010. Print.

Plath, Sylvia. "The Colossus." Introduction to English Literature. Comp. Trent University Department of English. Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press Inc., 2010. Print.

Webster's English Dictionary. Canadian. Toronto: Strathearn Books Limited, 2006. Print.


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