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New York: HarperCollins, Peel, Robin. London: Associated University Presses, Randall, James. Saldivar 54 Showalter, Elaine. London: Clarendon, Vender, Helen. Weller, Shane. It is inevitable, especially for someone well versed in psychoanalytic discourse, not to recall the psychopathology of schizophrenia and especially what pertains to the embodied and unembodied self proposed by R. For me, such a thought was a challenge, which I let go, as endorsing this would entail psychoanalyzing Plath.
The similarities were there but I was reluctant to see Plath as the case history of a schizoid individual. What was the case then? Why so much preoccupation with borders, why lament the extinction of the borderless self? Why persecute the mother who neglected her because a little brother was born? Why the breath of the sea? All of a sudden, the final paragraph of the essay came before my eyes in neon colors: And this is how it stiffens my vision of that seaside childhood.
My father died, we moved inland. Whereon those nine first years of my life sealed themselves off like a ship in a bottle — beautiful, inaccessible, obsolete, a fine, white flying myth. She wants to be able to be born, but paradoxically without having to break the maternal womb. She wants to find a way to blur borders and access the boat, as this will enable her to regress to her nascent state and achieve rebirth. If she is contained in the world, this entails blurring of borders, as her skin seems to have been ruptured and she forms part of the world.
Her drawings, however, depict her desire to be contained inside the borders of her skin. Near the end of the treatment, Milner observes that now Susan is preoccupied with drawings of seas. A passionate fragmentary girl maybe? Thus, to solve the problem she resorts to the endorsement of various masks, which will give the invisible self a sense of visibility.
Christodoulides 60 order to discuss the nature of schizophrenia, the reader gets the impression that examining the double becomes equated with her preoccupations with borders as the double entails borders in opposition to borderless states. From having been an assurance of immortality, he becomes the ghastly harbinger of death.
Her repulsion, however, stems from the fact that the double becomes an omen of death as it precipitates the extinction of oceanic fusion; for the self being divided means being deprived of its infinity. At the age of 22, when Plath wrote her thesis, the self senses that border crossing could prove to be beneficial for the self in crisis, but the notion that self-regeneration could be achieved through the victorious conquest of borders has not matured enough to enter consciousness.
Sylvia Plath is one of the three women she mentions, whose suicides she sees as the answer to this maternal call. In Powers of Horror, Kristeva presents her theory of the abject, its relation to the mother and its significance in the constitution of subjectivity. She makes a distinction between the paternal symbolic and the maternal semiotic. Yet the abject remains ambiguous, repelling and fascinating. Its incorporating aspects promise the return to the oceanic primordial state inside the semiotic chora, the original oneness with the mother: [A]bjection is above all ambiguity.
Because, while releasing a hold, it does not radically cut off the subject from what threatens it — on the contrary, abjection acknowledges it to be in perpetual danger. But also because abjection itself is a composite of judgment and affect, of condemnation and yearning, of signs and drives.
Abjection preserves what existed in the archaism of pre-objectal relationship. Plath Profiles 63 To control the abject, societies used purification rituals in which the contact with it would be renewed and be ejected so that the demarcation could be redrawn. In the same way, Plath renews her own contact with her borderless state by reliving it in memory. Such a remembrance reminds her that she can always go back not merely regress like a psychotic but revisit, blur borders and draw them anew.
Whereas the land is limited, restricted, the sea, which encloses it, seems infinite. Most importantly, Plath associates states of borderlessness with the self. In his seminal book The Divided Self, R. Such individuals are in one sense trying to be omnipotent, enclosing within their own being the outer world, but in another impotent sense as shut-up selves, they are unable to be enriched by outer experience.
Because she could not remember any aspect of her infant experience, i. Omnipotence, as Plath perceives it, is not a pure megalomaniac delusion, but a coveted state since it also entails the blurring of borders between the self and others and the acquisition of the power to enter others.
God is omnipotent because He is not limited. As Laing puts it in his discussion of the unembodied self, Such an individual in one sense is trying to be omnipotent by enclosing within his own being modes of relationship that require the effective presence into him of other people and the outer world.
Susan recalls sleeping with her and feeling the constricting tentacles of her arms. This fusion led the child into believing the world no longer to be outside her Not letting the daughter breathe and achieve her own individuation in a separate existence of her own — experienced by a vast number of mothers and daughters — was a feeling Plath experienced throughout her life.
How could she, so loving, so faithful, so easily leave me? The good enough mother becomes a bad, unloving mother who very easily gives up her child for the sake of another. At the same time, however, she implicitly accuses her of not allowing her individuation even at a small age: When I was learning to creep, my mother set me down on the beach to see what I thought of it. I crawled straight for the coming wave and was just through the wall of green when she caught my heels.
In a letter dated December 4, , Aurelia Plath is giving advice to her daughter who is about to move to London, but her overpowering suffocating presence hovers over her text. Naturally, I assumed that you would not leave deposit books lying carelessly about so that they could be noted! You do have to cook, after all. On this day, this awful birthday of otherness, my rival, somebody else, I flung the starfish against a stone.
Let it perish. It had no wit. In the same way, one may see the killing of the starfish as a sort of transference. Since she was the one to have saved and nurtured the starfish, she assumed the role of its mother, and killing it, persecutes the bad mother inside her. This dependence recalled her own suffocating dependence on her mother. While it becomes difficult to state conclusively that Plath was tormented by infanticidal tendencies, occasionally it is noted that the killing of babies is a mere metaphor for the killing of any obstacles that hinder the self.
What lies on the other side of the speculum? How can she re-enter? And what if the image is dark? What if she re-experiences what she had sensed as a child during the hurricane? The sound is a call from the maternal sea and makes the self remember another call. Perhaps this is another means of joining the maternal through the semiotic call of poetic language. Here follows my first sonnet, written during the hours of 9 to 1 a. In Powers of Horror, Kristeva talks about the two-faced mother: the sublime and the abject.
There is an affinity between the child and the sea; a common element: salt. Thus, recalling the smell of salt itself becomes a catalyst leading the self back to a consideration of its nascent condition. Something is breathing. My own breath. The breath of my mother? It is a bit later that she comes to associate the gust of wind with the breath of the sea And it was from this that there came, if the relaxation had been deep enough, the astounding feeling of both oneself and the world as new created.
Now so many years later, when Plath is a mother herself, she feels more strongly the call of the mother sea. If she answers the call and manages to blur the boundaries and approach the abject, then she may start anew. Their dread of regressing back to the womb is manifested in their fear of being buried alive ibid. Once the borders were blurred with childbirth, the mother is liberated, can join the world and enjoy oceanic fusion. Now in , however, she has realized that border crossing with childbirth has proved totally ineffective.
This time, during the winter of , however, the memory will be reactivated involuntarily. It is the smell of the salt again. Now the self in its cul de sac recalls the lost happiness which is associated with a liquidity, that of the sea and its borderlessness.
She is in frozen London. Ruth Beuscher is miles away and can only communicate with her through letters. I have thought alot [sic] about your difficulty […. As the latter, I could properly only explore your feelings, and invite you, in the light of whatever was discovered, to make your own decisions. But my 3rd ear tells me I am also wanted in some other role, if not actually one of those parenthetically suggested.
Also, in spite of much effort on my part, I am totally unable to function solely as a psychiatrist in this crisis. Thus, Plath resorts to writing, for this will act like a dark room in which sensory experiences can be slowly processed, seen and understood in the wider context of interpersonal experience.
Through literary language she can infringe on the laws of fixed syntax and grammar, and she can re-enter the maternal semiotic, re-experience subject formation and achieve rebirth. This call of the maternal semiotic is urgent. Will, however, going back enable return? What will this retreat come to? Is there any space for subjectivity to define itself, seek expression, encounter obstacles, imagine ways round them?
Now Plath has moved the black telephone receiver off the hook. But the entry into the maternal realm, the chora, was too deep and the self too exhausted to rise above it to achieve rebirth. Christodoulides 76 Works Cited Beuscher, R. Unpublished Correspondence with Sylvia Plath.
Butscher, E. Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality. New York: Brunner, Routledge, Freud, S. Gregory, E. Contemporary Literature , Holbrook, D. Sylvia Plath: Poetry and Existence. London: The Athlone Press, Hughes, T. London: Faber, Jung, C. Psychology and Alchemy. London: Routledge, Kristeva, J. About Chinese Women. New York: Marion Boyars, Desire in Language. Oxford: Blackwell, The Kristeva Reader.
By Toril Moi. New Maladies of the Soul. New York: Columbia UP, Powers of Horror. Proust and the Sense of Time. Revolution in Poetic Language. Laing, R. The Divided Self. Laplanche, J. The Language of Psychoanalysis. London: The Hogarth Press, Plath Profiles 77 Milner, M. The Hands of the Living God. Plath, A. Plath, S. The Bell Jar. Collected Poems.
Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams. Journals of Sylvia Plath. Letters Home. Proust, M. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin. London: Virago, Segal, H. Introduction to the Work of Melanie Klein. London: Karnac Books, Skea, A.
Julia Kristeva: Speaking the Unspeakable. London: Pluto Press, Thomas, D. Collected Poems: London: Dent, Wardi, E. Winnicott, R. Playing and Reality. Harmondsworth: Penguin, Yalom, M. Maternity, Mortality and the Literature of Madness. London: Penn State UP, Two mental-health articles. I must write one about a college girl suicide. And a story, a novel even. There is an increasing market for mental- hospital stuff. Though Plath biographies are rife with references to her struggle with depression, scholars have only recently started to write about how Plath herself participated in a larger cultural conversation about medicine and mental health.
To prevent excessive footnoting, I will use MLA parenthetical citations for literary sources. All other quotations will be noted in Chicago-style footnotes. Kukil, Unabridged Journals, Plath Profiles 79 wrote to her in appreciation of a poem she wrote about being in a maternity ward. Plath in Her Time Plath was neither a bohemian nor a feminist, but a product of our s White American middle-class. She was a woman torn between her own desire to pursue a career and pressure to become a stay-at-home wife and mother.
Aurelia taught stenography classes at Boston University, but money for the family was always tight. She also transferred her own interests and ambitions onto her children, placing a kind of vicarious pressure on them that Plath grew to loathe. Plath, nonetheless, was an excellent student and precocious talent. Her poems and stories were accepted for publication in magazines like Seventeen while she was still in high school.
I hate the word. Or should I major in Eng. Plath mss. She was eager to be recognized as a college girl and she was careful to wear the proper uniform, in this case Bermuda shorts, knee socks, and [a] button-down-collar shirt. Her hair was casually but precisely styled. At Smith, she continued to achieve the academic success she had known at her Wellesley high school. But she also had many problems, including chronic sinus infections, insomnia, and frequent bouts of depression and lethargy.
And sometimes events that Plath counted on becoming her best successes turned out to be her worst experiences, such as when she spent a month in New York City, living the life of a magazine editor. During the program, Plath and the other college guest editors were given a whirlwind tour of New York City that included numerous banquets and evening events.
Plath, who was susceptible to overwork, pushed herself beyond her limits that previous spring and found her month-long stay in New York overwhelming. In addition to the constant social activity, Plath had the second-most-important job at the magazine as guest managing editor. But to her great disappointment, she was not accepted and was left instead scrambling to come up with new plans.
She decided to spend the summer at home, intending to learn shorthand and begin researching for her thesis. But Plath by and large considered her summer to be a failure, having been so set upon studying at Harvard. Plath Profiles 81 by her spring semester work and overwhelmed from her time at Mademoiselle, she found it difficult and then impossible to focus on shorthand or her thesis work.
As her depression worsened, she began receiving painful electroshock treatments from doctors she intensely disliked. The experience of these treatments pushed her over the edge, as she later related to Eddie Cohen, a young man from Chicago who was a pen-pal of sorts: I underwent a rather brief and traumatic experience of badly-given shock treatments on an outpatient basis. Pretty soon, the only doubt in my mind was the precise time and method of committing suicide.
The only alternative I could see was an eternity of hell for the rest of my life in a mental hospital, and I was going to make use of my last ounce of free choice and choose a quick clean ending. Cohen, December 28, See Alexander, Rough Magic, , Moraski 82 immediate rapport.
Plath also began receiving electroshock treatment again. Though she always hated the treatment, Plath found that it gave her significant relief when administered properly, as it was at McLean. When Plath returned to Smith that winter, she continued to receive some counseling while her letters to her mother regained their earlier chirpy effusiveness: Am still chatting with Dr.
What brought about this fit of depression? What sort of stresses was your personality subjected to? And why did you decide on the particular means you did to solve your problems? What was the diagnosis of whomever you were in the hands of? And what sort of therapy were you given and how did you react to the whole process?
She did eventually write The Bell Jar, however, and its autobiographical resonance may provide some missing answers. She had graduated from Smith summa cum laude four years earlier, in Adlai Stevenson, whom Plath supported, was the speaker at her commencement. He told the graduating women that the purpose of their education was to 13 Sylvia Plath to Aurelia Plath, April 19, In February of her first year, she met Hughes, a fellow poet, at a party.
The two felt an immediate attraction—they squirreled themselves away in a back room during the party to talk about poetry, and Hughes left with a bite on his cheek given to him flirtatiously, it seems by Plath when he kissed her. They married just months later in June, Once Plath completed her two years of study at Cambridge, she and Hughes moved to the U.
Difficulty conceiving bothered her deeply. See Jo Gill, ed. See Middlebrook, Her Husband, Moraski 84 formed to partake of, to nourish, is a great and wasting Death. It is therefore unsurprising that when Plath finally sat down to 21 Kukil, Unabridged Journals, See Barbara A. Plath Profiles 85 write The Bell Jar, it took her just a few months to write it.
She had been thinking about the novel for much longer. First, however, it is necessary to understand that Plath was long attracted to commercial writing, as the critic Robin Peel notes: The longing for success in prose narrative—in particular the novel—above all other forms of imaginative writing, including poetry remained with Plath throughout her life.
However, she also suggests that the manuscript had been completed some months earlier, citing a letter from Plath to her mother of 20 November in which she explains that even though she had recently received a Eugene F. I get homesick for it no others, Mcalls or Womans Day will do! I shall have fulfilled a very longtime ambition if a story of mine ever makes the LHJ.
Of the two Cosmopolitan articles Plath read in , one in particular suggests inspiration for The Bell Jar. Here is the story of the bewilderment and hidden anguish that touches countless husbands and wives. The betrayal, especially whenever Blake returns home for visits, is difficult to bear: 30 Sylvia Plath to Aurelia Plath, October 22, In , according to Nancy A.
Buck, J. Salinger, Max Shulman, A. Milne, and Jerome Weidman, a novelist and playwright whose play Fiorello! Even fewer understand the importance of personal appearance in maintaining and strengthening the mental health of the normal woman. Plath Profiles 87 There were some agonizing scenes between my husband and me.
Once I took the wedding ring I had given him from his finger and threw it out into the garden. Then I ran out into the meadow near our house and cried for half a day. Once we sat up all night talking and talking. This night stands out in my memory because we were so much ourselves. The children were really fun.
They were emerging now as little people, and I made up my mind to let them be whatever they were and not try to invent personalities for them as I had done for my husband. She mentions that she now has a child For a long time afterward I hid them [the gifts] away, but later, when I was all right again, I brought them out, and I still have them around the house. I use the lipsticks now and then, and last week I cut the plastic starfish off the sunglasses case for the baby to play with.
In this sense, it is significant that the older Esther narrating the novel never describes her husband or her life outside of motherhood, as though the responsibility of raising a child ultimately superseded her own personal desire to marry a man she is compatible or to continue her creative work. As in J. During her recovery at the asylum, she gets a diaphragm as a means to allay her fears of having an unintended pregnancy. Here, Esther is particularly sensitive to the political environment that she is a part of: she is acutely aware of the prevailing fear that totalitarianism could somehow find a foothold in the United States.
She experiences insomnia, and her inability to decide how to spend the remaining 37 The Rosenbergs were a married American couple executed in for passing state atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. Growing concerns over the Cold War and atomic warfare did not help, either.
When her current prescription of sleeping pills proves ineffective, her doctor refers her to Dr. Gordon, a psychiatrist. Young and good-looking, Dr. Gordon has all the trappings of a successful family man. Esther immediately notices the family portrait ornamenting his desk, and the picture of Dr. Gordon, his wife, and their two small children infuriates her. Whee-ee-ee-ee-ee, it shrilled, through an air crackling with blue light, and with each flash a great jolt drubbed me till I thought my bones would break and the sap fly out of me like a split plant.
I wondered what terrible thing it was that I had done. Marjorie Garber and Rebecca L. Walkowitz, New York: Routledge, Her despair is made worse by the fact that she does not know any women who have successfully managed all three of these roles. The professionally successful women Esther knows are either presumably unmarried like her benefactor Philomena Guinea or her psychiatrist Dr.
Nolan, married but childless like her editor Jay Cee, or lesbian like the poet at her college. They were covered with red bumps, then welts, that ran up along her arms. See Wagner-Martin, Sylvia Plath, Moraski 92 choose. If Esther is discharged, she will return to her life as a college student, work on her thesis on Finnegans Wake, finish her degree requirements, and graduate, as though nothing has happened to her in the time since she had completed her junior year of college the previous spring.
My stocking seams were straight, my black shoes cracked, but polished, and my red wool suit flamboyant as my plans. There ought, I thought, to be a ritual for being born twice—patched, retreaded, and approved for the road. Her transformation from an angry and volatile young woman to a docile and approval-seeking one suggests that Esther—and by extension, The Bell Jar—has failed to break out of the cultural framework of its time.
She was herself now a mother to year-old Frieda Rebecca and was also recuperating from a recent miscarriage and appendectomy. Hughes watched their daughter in the morning to allow Plath to do some writing of her own. She did not tell many people that she was writing a book, though she wrote to her college friend Ann Davidow that she was working on a novel about a college co-ed overcoming a nervous breakdown. She apprenticed herself to writers whose work she wished to emulate, as she wrote in her journal in I could write a terrific novel.
The tone is the problem. I need a master, several masters. Lawrence, except in Women in Love, is too bare, too journalistic in his style. Joyce Cary I like. I have that fresh, brazen, colloquial voice. Or Jack Burden. I have time. I must tell myself I have time. Linda W. Originally encountered in Middlebrook, Her Husband, Holden meets a sailor and a Cuban; so does Esther.
Holden walks forty-one blocks back to his New York hotel; Esther walks forty-eight. Holden looks as yellow in his mirror as Esther looking Chinese does in hers. He vomits before going to bed; in The Bell Jar, Doreen does that, but then Esther and the other guest editors share in another long purge after eating bad crab. Both books have a cemetery scene. Holden Caulfield wants to go West because he thinks that part of the country will save him.
Esther wants to go to Chicago for the same reasons. For Esther, there was rebirth. That summer, Aurelia visited her daughter and son-in-law in their country manor outside London. The family had grown: in January, Plath gave birth to a son, Nicholas Farrar. As she cared for the infant, she began work on a second novel she planned to be based on her first meeting and subsequent relationship with Hughes. See Lynda K. Plath Profiles 95 of the redemptive power of love. The hero of that book was her husband.
It was to be given to [Ted] in rough draft form as a birthday gift [in August]. Hughes had started a relationship with Assia Wevill, a mutual friend of the couple, and Plath was beginning to suspect as much. Plath, understanding the betrayal, ripped the telephone lines out of the wall. Aurelia, still visiting, later described the scene: Sylvia had built a huge, blazing bonfire at the end of the cobbled courtyard.
Ted was in London. I was caring for the children in the kitchen when I became aware of what was happening outdoors. As I stood helplessly in the doorway, with Baby Nick in my arms, struggling to keep Frieda from joining her mother, I saw Sylvia furiously ripping apart the thick Ms. Distraught, I later brought up the subject of the destruction.
All Sylvia would say was that the manuscript had symbolized a period of joy that now proved to have been built on false trust—the character of the hero was dead to her—this had been his funeral pyre. The companion book which was to follow this—and I have this all spelled out in letters from her—was to be the triumph of the healed central figure 51 Ibid. Moraski 96 of the first volume and in this the caricatured characters of the first volume were to assume their true identities.
She had the primary responsibility of caring for the children in addition to coping with her own heartbreak. During this period, Plath started what would have been her third novel, which she planned to title Doubletake or Double Exposure. Yeats once lived. The novel came out with little fanfare, since it appeared to be authored by a first-time writer, to mostly solid, if lukewarm, reviews.
Most devastating to Plath, however, was the fact that the same issue of the Observer that briefly reviewed her book contained a poem, given prominent space, by Hughes about their daughter. That manuscript disappeared somewhere around Plath Profiles 97 life. It was the peace of mind her relationship with Ted Hughes gave her when their relationship was at its strongest. Blake became the hero in her own story in Cosmopolitan. For Esther—and for Plath, too—the hero was supposed to be the husband.
Her status as an artist grew as the poems she wrote the last year of her life were posthumously published. When the novel came to America in ,62 it stayed on The New York Times best-seller list for six months. In this case, however, electricity itself is a neutral force, positive at times, negative at others.
Moraski 98 those 10 years in Hell. It is very much a story of the fifties, but written in the early sixties, and now, after being effectively suppressed in this country for eight years, published in the seventies. Its depictions of electroshock treatment, public and private psychiatric practice, and the relationship between patient and therapist came right as a new movement—antipsychiatry—developed in the early s among some psychiatrists and cultural critics.
Though Plath was always grateful to her therapist and remained close to her throughout her life, she was also deeply scarred by the incompetent administration of electroshock given to her by the first psychiatrists she saw. Plath believed that medicine could help her manage her moods—indeed, she was seeing a doctor up to the point of her death—but she was also aware that the mental health establishment could become a terror in its own right when administered by men like Dr.
The Bell Jar, therefore, ended up providing social commentary even as Plath aimed it for popular success. Her criticism of men like Dr. Gordon as well as her approving characterization of Dr. New York: Harper Perennial, Blake, Patricia. The remaining sources were cited using Chicago-style footnotes: Manuscript collections Plath, Sylvia. Plath Manuscript Collection. Primary sources Fleming, Eugene D. Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique.
New York: W. Klein, Elinor. Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher. New York Times, April 16, Locke, Richard. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, Edited by Karen V. New York: Anchor Books, Moraski Scholes, Robert. New York Times, April 11, Slocombe, Lorna. Steiner, Nancy Hunter. Secondary sources: General history May, Elaine Tyler. Mitchell, Barbara A. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, Walker, Nancy A. Secondary sources: Literary Alexander, Paul.
New York: Viking, Ashe, Marie. Walkowitz, New York: Routledge, Beidler, Philip D. Berman, Jeffrey. Bundtzen, Lynda K. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, Plath Profiles Butscher, Edward. New York: The Seabury Press, Farland, Maria. Ferretter, Luke. Fisher, Jerilyn, and Ellen S. Silber, eds. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, Gill, Jo, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Sylvia Plath. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, Gill, Jo. The Cambridge Introduction to Sylvia Plath. Kelly, Stuart.
New York: Random House, Macpherson, Pat. Reflecting on The Bell Jar. Malcolm, Janet. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Maroda, Karen. Middlebrook, Diane. Moses, Kate. Ohmann, Richard. Fiction, Moraski Stevenson, Anne. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, Wagner, Linda W.
Wagner-Martin, Linda. New York: Twayne, Wagner-Martin, Linda W. Sylvia Plath: A Biography. The grief and anxious energies that accompanied the release of massive violence in the twentieth century haunt their writing. Hughes actualized in his life the role of fisherman-as-poet and eco-warrior, and saw fish as muses. Plath found fish at the core of her imaginary identity. Plath and Hughes were not only hooked on one another, he swallowed her.
Mourning and purgatory inform this work. Ramsay promotes, says Ellison, because misery loves company A poor fisherman who lives with his wife in a hovel by the seashore catches a flounder. The flounder tells the fisherman his catch would not make good eating and asks to be let go. The fisherman thinks that since the flounder can speak, this fish had better go back into the sea, which is described as clear except for a long streak of blood left behind by the fish as it sinks to the bottom.
When the fisherman reports to his wife that he had caught and released a talking fish, she complains about the dreadfulness of living in an evil-smelling hovel and tells her husband to call back the enchanted fish and ask it for a cottage. This the husband does, finding the sea now green and yellow, and not nearly so clear as before. Next, the wife asks for a castle in place of the cottage. Though the fisherman thinks it is not the right thing to do, he asks for and receives a castle from the flounder, now in a watery realm grown purple, dark blue, grey and thick, not green and yellow as before.
The wife, transformed first into a king, then an emperor and finally a pope, all from an increasingly darkening, ill- smelling, and land-invading sea, at last asks for power over the sun and moon. He observes that the palatial setting produced for the couple compares to what must have once belonged to the enchanted prince, before his transformation into a flounder.
Applied to the marital strains between characters in To the Lighthouse, this undermining points to overweening demands, expectations and needs between partners. Ramsay needs money from Mr. Ramsay, who she thinks will not want to give it for the repairs she wants to their greenhouse. He wants her to say that she loves him though she needs him to know it without her saying it.
Ramsay demands exhausting amounts of emotional support from Mrs. Ramsay such that James, Cam and Lily see him as using her up, drinking her vitality dry and causing Mrs. Beyond this, Mr. Ramsay favoring wishes and Mr. Ramsay insisting on facts. Of her own marriage, Mrs. The aesthetic elaborations that transform a hovel into a palace and back again represent for Ellison analogues for fiction writing that borders on madness. Woolf, says Ellison, conceived of writing as a maelstrom descent, an espousing of the impersonal world of fluid indeterminacy.
Toward the end of her life, observes Ellison, four-and-a-half months before she committed suicide by walking into a river, she went out to look at a flood and fell into a watery hole, eliminating, she claimed, her human features Virginia Woolf, letter to Ethel Smyth, quoted by Lee, ; Ellison, Hughes, , In the history of married couples who are published writers, Plath and Hughes can be described as postmodern exemplars.
For the sake of comparison, it is interesting to note that in the romantic relationship between Percy and Mary Shelley, Percy at the time was perceived to be the genius in the pair, while Mary thought of herself as a lesser writer as well as a monster. In the Virginia-Leonard Woolf marriage, Virginia was and is perceived as a modernist genius. In the marriage of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, she at first saw Ted as the genius and the more successful and more important writer; but then she outgrew him and there unfolded a power struggle between them as to whose talent would prevail.
The answer to the question of who is the more powerful writer in this couple remains indeterminate. According to Diane Middlebrook, it is as collaborators in the literary history of marriage that they seem most significant today Our minds are just enraptured with words, ideas, languages.
I shall be one of the few women poets in the world who is fully a rejoicing woman, not a bitter or frustrated or warped man-imitator, which ruins most of them in the end. Plath, Ed. So much for Grimm. Hughes, Hunter Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath Virginia Woolf was constitutionally depressed, lost her mother at 13, lived with a depressive, histrionic father Leslie Stephen for about 10 years thereafter, and had suicidal episodes early in her life.
At the age of 59, with the prospect of Nazi invasion of England in view, her London home having been bombed, and hearing enemy air incursions nightly over her Sussex home, and having prepared for suicide by poison with her husband in the case of Britain's defeat in World War II, and in physical pain, Virginia Woolf ended her life in when she thought she was going mad.
Kukil, Hearing Elizabeth Drew read To the Lighthouse in a huge classroom sent a shiver down the spine of Sylvia Plath during her sophomore year at Smith College. Kukil: Kukil: ; cf. Woolf, Newman, Schulkind, As Woolf does in her memoir, Plath reports her first memory—the breath of the sea. Newman: Ives the year before the death of Julia Stephen. The throwing of the fish-idea copyright estate of Aurelia S. The blood in the water during the war recalls the turmoil surrounding the magical flounder in Grimm.
The mutilation of the fish suggests the fragmentation of the family created by the deaths of Mrs. Ramsay, Andrew and Prue. Plath Profiles The piece of the fish that gathers more fish suggests the way thoughts accumulate, flow and associate in the novel. Sylvia Plath exults to her mother that Ted Hughes has fish and poems in his pockets.
Hughes considered Neptune a major force in his destiny. Fish for him represent vitality, desire, sexuality, biological inheritance, and literary generativity. The now literary landmark Falcon Yard launch party for the St. This odor is sexual, as in the joke about the blind man who gets an erection every time he passes a fish market. He experienced fish as exemplars of male regenerativity and continuity. It gives you the opportunity of being totally immersed, turning back into yourself in a good way.
A form of meditation, some form of communion with levels of yourself that are deeper than the ordinary self. I used to be hooked on pike fishing when I was a teenager. Pike were the great thing. I was totally obsessed by pike. Pike had obviously become fixed at some very active, deep level in my imaginative life. My obsession with pike maybe was my obsession with those energies. I hooked a pike in my dream. I hooked it at tremendous depth.
As it came up, its head filled the lake. I brought it out and its girth filled the entire lake, that same lake. And I was backing up, dragging the thing out. Salmon imagined to be anointing him with their young are swimming upstream to spawn and die.
And coming up this river were these big salmon. As they came past me they were leaping. And as they leapt they shook themselves in the air. As they shook themselves in the air, their milt and spawn were splashed over me.
I was completely covered with milt and spawn from these leaping salmon. Since that dream, all my recurrent fish dreams have been about salmon. The implication of this tale is that the sperm-like fish were drawn by the active sexuality of the honeymooners Reid Ted Hughes was active in the environmental movement to clean up the rivers where he fished, and alarmed by the effects of pollution on fish reproduction.
In anticipation of his own death, Hughes requested that his name be cut in a long slab of granite and placed between the sources of the rivers Teign, Dart, Taw and East Okement, and that his ashes be scattered in that area. Water has been the soul. And water is life, the ultimate life. Plath's "Mirror" narrates a lifetime of interactions with a nameless, faceless woman and imagines ageing as disfigurement. Both pond and mirror have reflecting surfaces, but whereas a mirror is just a surface, a pond conceals depths.
They start by objectively describing a scene and then unconceal an uncanny imaginary presence. Lane, The poet speaks through the voice of her mirror, a foursquare, shining silver little god, utterly exact in what it sees and reflects. The three-inch pike knead quietly under water. Stanza five introduces a second vignette, this one indoors, enclosed behind the transparent walls of a figurative jungle with unusual inhabitants for a domestic aquarium—three pike. These three are specified by size.
One pike is three inches long; the other two are a bit larger, a pecking order of inches. These fish seem at first to be thriving in their enclosure, but then the fittest one survives the others. This encounter with violent fish is close up; but it is on land, in a human frame of reference.
Plath Profiles The eye of the fish with the devouring gullet has an iron stare—an alien, blank stare. Since the observer is alive and the objects of his inspection are not, detachment remains between human and fish.
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