Plath context

Vital context and dates for Sylvia Plath

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  • Created on: 16-05-11 12:52
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Poem Date Context Summary, Themes & arguments
Spinster 1956 Written in the same year that Plath met Ted Hughes. This poem may represent the other A woman, whilst courting a man, realises how disorganised love can be, shuts
path she could have taken when she met him, rather than taking a chance at love as she did in herself off from the world. The idea that rejection and loss of love can make yo
real life. Feminist overtones that women were expected to court men. A `spinster' meant a stronger and better person. Actively rejecting loss and shutting her off from the
woman who was not married. The poem is not confessional, unlike a lot of Plath's work but rest of the world. Insanity, seclusion, the idea that loves can be negative to som
is instead observational. It was written early on in her career. people disordered. Themes of nature.
You're 1960 Written during first pregnancy with Frieda, 5 months pregnant. Had just moved into Plath describes her pregnancy with Frieda. A joyous celebration of the life
apartment in the UK. Poem is addressed to the unborn child. processes the idea that each life is a new start `a clean slate'. The idea that
distance does not affect the love between mother and child.
Morning Song February Written before miscarriage and is about the birth of Frieda and coming to terms with a new Plath growing into the role of being a mother at first it seems foreign to her bu
1961 baby. A clear example of Plath using an event from her own life as poetry. the end of the poem she has developed a maternal instinct. Parent/Child
relationship. The idea that life is very short and that each person has their own
individual life. Communication between mother and child. Time.
Mirror 1961 Perhaps when Plath refers to the aging woman in the mirror she refers to emotional aging, the A description of a mirror, how it see's everything. Possibly about a young girl
evolution from a lively young woman (pre Ted Hughes?) to an angry depressed suicide growing into an old woman, dissatisfied with her appearance because of the
waiting to happen. However, Plath separated from Ted in 1962. Feministic view of the expectation placed upon her in society the idea that women are judged on thei
time that women are judged on appearances. During 1961 Plath suffered a miscarriage. appearance. She has grown old and has spent so much of her life looking in the
mirror, trying to please others that she has grown into an old lady. Old age and
time is constantly chasing after her, the mirror / reflection see's all of this. Time
Dissatisfaction with self.
Ariel October Written after separation with Ted Hughes whilst staying in Cornwall. Possibly had an affair Either about a horse or about the lesbian affair she is rumoured to have had.
1962 with farmer's wife and this may relate to the content of the poem, however it is unknown. Describes freedom, of leaving children and her old life behind the life of a
housewife which she so detests. Freedom. Female power. Sacrifice. The bonds
Letter in 1962 Pregnant with Nick. Knew about Ted's affair with Asia. Plaths father died when she was 8, The seasons particularly autumn. Possibly a false happiness, talking about
November when she mentions the clean slate she could be referring to how she does not feel positive isolating herself from the rest of the world. Her own haven in nature, perhaps a
about herself, but the child has a fresh start and she will support it. escape from the reality of life and Ted's affair. Pathetic fallacy.
A Birthday September Written by Plath after she discovered Ted was having an affair with Asia, however the The idea of carpe diem ­ wanting to know the truth so that she can move on w
Present 1962 couple were still together and living in Devon. She is highly paranoid and depressed at this her life. She is self mocking in this poem, mentioning how Assia is much pretti
stage. Written about 6 months before she committed suicide. The poetry written at this than her, once again referencing the ridiculous bonds that being a housewife ha
time may have been the result of her decision to take her own life ­ after her failed attempt placed upon her. She is accepting, but wants to know the truth, asking Ted to te
in August 1953. Also refers to Plath's role within the household she always had strong her. She does not want to make a scene. The idea of being shrouded and covere
opinions about the role of women in society and hated the responsibilities that society That love does not always last forever.
placed upon her.

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Nick and The October Written at the time of the Cuban Missile crisis and the cold war the danger of the atomic Carrying the flame of optimism. Religious references to Nick being a saviour,
Candlestick 1962 bomb. Nuclear weapons testing began in 1945 and weapons were tested in the air until 1963. being a messiah and a light in a dark place. `Candlestick' is ambiguous ­ could
About her son, Nick who was born in January 1962. She attempted suicide in 1953.…read more


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