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Sylvia Plath's life, like her manic depression, constantly jumped between Heaven and Hell.

Her seemingly perfect exterior hid a turbulent and deeply troubled spirit. A closer look at her childhood and personal experiences removes some element of mystery from her writings. One central character to Sylvia Plath's poems is her father, Professor Otto Emile Plath. Otto Plath was diabetic and refused to stay away from foods restricted by his doctor. As a result , he developed a sore on his left foot. Professor Plath ignored the sore, and eventually the foot was overcome with gangrene. The foot and then the entire left leg were amputated in an effort to s ave his life, but he died in November of 1940, when Sylvia was just eight years old. The fact that her father could have prevented his death left Sylvia Plath with a feeling of delibera te betrayal. Instead of reaching out to other people for comfort, she isolated herself with writing as her only expressive outlet, and remarkably had a poem published when she was only eight. Plath continued prolific writing through high school and won a scholarship to Smith College i n 1950 where she met her friend Anne Sexton. Sexton often joined Plath for martinis at the Ritz whe re they shared poetry and intellectualized discussions about death. Although they were friends, the re was also an element of competition between Sexton and Plath. Sylvia Plath's poem "Daddy" was pos sibly a response to Anne Sexton's "My Friend, My Friend." It was as if Plath was commenting that he r writing skills were just a bit better than Sexton's. Sexton frequently would express to Robert Lo well in his poetry class her dissatisfaction with Plath's writing. She said that Plath "dodges the point in her poetry and hadn't yet found the form that belonged to her." The competitive nature of their relationship continued to the very end. To all appearences, Plath appeared nor mal, her social life similar to other middle class coeds.Many were attracted to Plath's brilliant mi nd, but few were aware of the inner torment that drove her to write, alienating her from the rest of society. Madamoiselle magazine awarded Plath a position as guest editor the summe r following her junior year at Smith. Friends and family were stunned at her suicide attempt when s he returned to college, most believing she had suffered a nervous breakdown due to the stress at the magazine. Her treatment was considered the best the medical world could offer and included electro -shock and psychotherapies. Plath tells her side of the story in the poem Lady Lazarus where she likens her experience to a victim of the Holocaust. But her apparent recovery enabled her to retu rn to graduate summa cum laude the following year. Ted Hughes met and fell in love wi th the writer while she continued her studies at Cambridge on a Fulbright grant. Hughes was also a student at Cambridge, and a fellow poet. The couple married four years later, and after a short sta y in the States, returned to England. After returning to London, Plath's first book of poetry, Colo ssus, was published in 1960. Plath's best known work, The Bell Jar was published following the birt h of their second child.( Ted Hughes, 52-66) The novel is semi-autobiographical, describing a young woman's tragic coming of age. The central character, a schoolgirl prodigy, Esther Greenwood, makes her way to adulthood in spite of periodic mental breakdowns. The Bell Jar is particularly poignant when Esther desrcibes her madness as " ...a bell jar, stifling and airless that descends without wa rning..." Not long after the publication of The Bell Jar in1963, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath split up. Plath was left caring for two children in a low-income area of London during one o f the coldest Novembers in centuries. She worked between four and eight in the morning. Apparently being inspired by hardship, Plath sometimes finished a poem every day. In her last poems, death is given a cruel and physical allure and pain becomes tangiible. Leaving some food and milk at the ki tchen table for her children, she gassed herself to death. Ironically, the woman Ted Hughes left Sy lvia Plath for another woman that would commit suicide by gas. Posthumous Publications include : Ariel, published in 1965, inspired a cult following. The poems were less uniform and mor e emotional than those published in Colossus. Other volumes are :Crossing the Water ( 1971) , Winte r Trees (1971) , Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams (1977) , and The Collected Poems (1981) , whic h was edited by Ted Hughes. At the funeral of Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton said in a eulo gy that she and Plath had " talked death with burned-up intensity, both of us drawn to it like moths to an electric light bulb." Ever since the 1700's, suicide has been thought of, in so me circles, a romantic way to die ( i.e. Romeo and Juliet). Some individuals also think that to tak e your own life will add to your artistic reputation.Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's novel The Sorrows of Weather suggested that suicide is accepted from those with artistic temperament because artists are supposedly more prone to drug use, isolation, suicide, etc... Every trip to the tr iumphant high points of Sylvia Plath's life was followed by a long stay in the bowels of Hell. Hell for Sylvia Plath was her own fantasy playground that was demolished at a young and tender age. May be if her gift were better known when she was alive, her life would have been more fulfilling, but a t least she is now at peace. Works Cited Hughes, Ted, and Fredrick McCullough. The Journals Of Sylvia Plath. London: Simon and Schuster, 1983. Butscher, Edward. Sylvia Plath : Me thod and Madness. New York: The Seabury Press, 1976. " The Bell Jar ". Grolier's Multimedia Encyclop edia. Grolier Electronic Publishing, 1995. " Suicide ". Grolier's Multimedia Encyclopedia. Grolier E lectronic Publishing, 1995. Gilson, William.Sylvia Plath Bio. http://home.interlynx.net/~hecate/pbio .htmlsylvia plath life like manic depression constantly jumped between heaven hell seemingly perfect exterior turbulent deeply troubled spirit closer look childhood personal experiences removes some e lement mystery from writings central character sylvia plath poems father professor otto emile plath otto diabetic refused stay away from foods restricted doctor result developed sore left foot profess or ignored sore eventually foot overcome with gangrene foot then entire left were amputated effort s ave life died november when sylvia just eight years fact that father could have prevented death left with feeling deliberate betrayal instead reaching other people comfort isolated herself with writin g only expressive outlet remarkably poem published when only eight continued prolific writing throug h high school scholarship smith college where friend anne sexton sexton often joined martinis ritz w

here they shared poetry intellectualized discussions about death although they were friends there al so element competition between sexton poem daddy possibly response anne friend friend commenting tha t writing skills were just better than frequently would express robert lowell poetry class dissatisf action said that dodges point poetry hadn found form belonged competitive nature their relationship continued very appearences appeared normal social life similar other middle class coeds many attract ed brilliant mind aware inner torment drove write alienating from rest society madamoiselle magazine awarded position guest editor summer following junior year smith friends family stunned suicide att empt when returned college most believing suffered nervous breakdown stress magazine treatment consi dered best medical world could offer included electro shock psychotherapies tells side story poem la dy lazarus where likens experience victim holocaust apparent recovery enabled return graduate summa laude following year hughes fell love writer while continued studies cambridge fulbright grant hughe s also student cambridge fellow poet couple married four years later after short stay states returne d england after returning london first book colossus published best known work bell published follow ing birth their second child hughes novel semi autobiographical describing young woman tragic coming central character schoolgirl prodigy esther greenwood makes adulthood spite periodic mental breakdo wns bell particularly poignant esther desrcibes madness bell stifling airless descends without warni ng long after publication split caring children income area london during coldest novembers centurie s worked between four eight morning apparently being inspired hardship sometimes finished every last poems death given cruel physical allure pain becomes tangiible leaving some food milk kitchen table children gassed herself ironically woman another woman would commit suicide posthumous publications include ariel inspired cult poems less uniform more emotional than those colossus other volumes cro ssing water winter trees johnny panic bible dreams collected which edited funeral anne said eulogy t alked burned intensity both drawn like moths electric light bulb ever since suicide been thought som e circles romantic romeo juliet individuals also think take your will your artistic reputation johan n wolfgang goethe novel sorrows weather suggested accepted those artistic temperament because artist s supposedly more prone drug isolation every trip triumphant high points followed long stay bowels h ell hell fantasy playground demolished young tender maybe gift better known alive would have been mo re fulfilling least peace works cited fredrick mccullough journals london simon schuster butscher ed ward method madness york seabury press grolier multimedia encyclopedia grolier electronic publishing grolier multimedia encyclopedia electronic publishing gilson william http home interlynx hecate pbi o htmlEssay, essays, termpaper, term paper, termpapers, term papers, book reports, study, college, t hesis, dessertation, test answers, free research, book research, study help, download essay, downloa d term papers