Today, Sylvia Plath is one of the recognized classics of American poetry of the twentieth century – a kind of continuation of Emily Dickinson’s line. In the 50s it was a bit different – misunderstanding, skepticism, irony. Plat’s short life was not easy. Her personal life was not easy either. Her personal circumstances and poetic circumstances summarized into a protracted depression with treatment in a psychiatric hospital and two suicide attempts, one of which was successful.
The poetic style of Sylvia Plath contains an internal, structural contradiction, perhaps, which on the psychoanalytic level reflects the duality of nature of the poet. On one hand, Plath is focused on classical poetry samples of English poetry; accordingly, her style is looking for a clear rhyme and rhythmic structure. On the other hand, her style is very similar to the technique of ‘stream of consciousness’. The images she describes in her works are so intense that sometimes these images hardly fit into any structure. They rather represent a series of associations, randomly moving one after the other, in which the initial installation on rhyme turns into accidental harmonies.
Any kind of harmony and order in the poems of Plath are just moments on the surface of the disordered, chaotic movement of life. The best poems of Sylvia Plath are the ones, where she refuses to focus on any standards, those, where the contemporary chaos triumphs over the classical tradition. If in such a chaos, rhyming is somehow obvious, that’s good; if the rhyme is not detected, it is not worse. One of such of her poems is ‘Daddy’.
‘Daddy’ is a concentrated accusation not so much to her real father, but to the older generation in general. Probably, every youth has a strict account to the fathers, not without reason Freudian and fascist imagery merge in this poem.
Her other poetry is just as nervous and restless as the ordered life that flows past her and through her. Ragged free verse, which is commensurate only with the breath, is a mixture of archaic slang, metaphysical anguish and emotional drudgery – these characteristics of her poetry are decisive.
When Sylvia Plath’s father died, she was only 10 years old, but that coexistence with the father, conscious in a very negative way becomes the main course of her existence. Under the sign of the event all her subsequent life events are interpreted. It seems that the symbolic father figure is fixation of traumatic events, against which all her subsequent life is a period that does not have an internal existential self-sufficiency.
Today, Sylvia Plath is one of the recognized classics of American poetry of the twentieth century – a kind of continuation of Emily Dickinson’s line. In the 50s it was a bit different – misunderstanding, skepticism, irony. Plat’s short life was not easy. Her personal life was not easy either.