Poetry, Electric Shocks and Death

Sylvia Plath, an American poet who came from the unknown and became a renowned poet, novelist and short story write died a gruesome death. Her death, which is controversial of being either an attempt to suicide or just a stunt to feel the adrenaline rush has been much debated. Sylvia is known for her “confessional poetry” and is also known as one of the neurotic poets.

Plath received her education in Cambridge before being acclaimed as a writer / poet and became the first to be awarded with the much coveted Pulitzer Prize. She showed a talent for words since the very beginning as she scripted complete poems at the age of five and then the first publication of her poem at the young age of eight; in the eight times Pulitzer Prize winning Boston Heralds’ children’s section.

Plaths’ family had shifted residence a few times and these new places had inspired Plath and thus few had even found a place in her poetries. In addition to her writing she also showed traits of a promising artist; winning the Scholastic Art and Writing Award in 1947.

Sylvia had seen the death of her father Otto Plath following an amputation of leg because of untreated diabetes. Her fathers’ death influenced her to a great extent. She experienced a loss of faith and remained ambivalent to religion throughout her life. Her strong and conflicting emotions of love, hate, anger and grief at the loss of her father were to affect Sylvia for the rest of her life.

She attended Smith College in Wellesley subsequent to her loss and excelled academically. Her first national publication was that of one of her poems “Bitter Strawberries” in The Christian Science Monitor just after her graduation in 1950. It was at this time she edited “the Smith Review” bringing her fame in the form of an offer requesting her to be the guest editor at “Mademoiselle”: a magazine in New York.

But success had not come the easy way. After persistent submissions to various periodicals and several rejection slips later; when she had begun to just doubt her ability and that she had perhaps lost her talent; she was finally known. But this had led to development of a pattern of depression, insomnia, and suicidal predisposition, which was evident in many of her works.

The summer in New York; began the downward spiral of her life. She was left disillusioned and stressed. She was refused admission in the much desired Harvard Summer Schools’ writing seminar. Depression seized her. She was given electroconvulsive therapy also known as shock treatment for depression. At this time Plath committed her first medically documented suicide attempt. She had crawled under the porch of her house through the cellar; after consuming an over dose of her mothers’ sleeping pills. She survived through this attempt though. She was found after days later still alive, though critical. She went into psychiatric care.

Later while in Cambridge she met Ted Hughes. Their kids Frieda and Nicholas were born after their marriage in 1956. Later in the years Plath attempts suicide again after going into depression on discovering Teds’ indiscretion.

Plaths’ death though ruled as a suicide was still debated to be just a last cry for help. Plath had sealed the room between her and the kids with wet towels and newspapers and placed her head in the oven with the gas running. She did this at the time when her neighbor was presumably about to start his day; for whom she had left a note to call her doctor. But the investigating inspector stated that she had placed her head too deep in the oven which clearly showed her intentions and also said the way she had sealed the room with tapes and towels could not be interpreted otherwise. Sylvia Plath was 30 when she died of carbon monoxide poisoning.