Rostros - Sylvia Plath. Pathways of death, disappointment and suicide decorated with female poetry.
Life with its circumstances and the people around us, can define many of our habits, tastes, character and responses. It is impossible to think that the events in the environment don't affect our soul, and can be negative or positive. And in the early life of the then little Sylvia Plath, with an exemplary father and a mother dedicated to her home a perfectionistic quality developed in the girl, at a very early age she had demonstrated a talent for writing, playing the piano, achieving excellent scores in her studies; nothing more her father and mother could ask for.
However, her father physically disappears from her side in the tender offspring of childhood. Being diagnosed with Diabetes and refusing to treat it, one of his legs was amputated soon after and later, as a complication of his condition, he suffered a pulmonary embolism and died on October 5, 1940. Sad and lamented, the little girl observes her mother, who not a single tear spills from the death of her father, a fact that carried importance in her following years of life.
Sylvia and her mother, they were trying to get on with their lives. The girl, who was only 8 years old, had published her first poem, wrote verses and stories that she published in different small newspapers in her village. Meanwhile, the mother only took care of remaining a perfect "widow" and with actions required of society, the latter felt and saw Sylvia as something imprisoning, mechanical, therefore develops feminist and liberating behaviors.
A sample of her repulsion to the feminine condition imposed by society, comes to light in many of her later writings, the most renowned phrase among them is << My great tragedy is to have been born a woman >>; there she reveals in a direct and simple way the internal and external fight that disembarks in her being.
The years go by and she continues her education, but even with pain and sadness she decides to opt for suicide, failing in it and later taken to a recovery center. From this moment in her life, one of her books, entitled
"The Bell Jar."
Fragment taken from "La Campana de Cristal" (The Crystal Bell)
I saw my life branch out before me, like the fig green of the tale. From the tip of each branch, like an enormous purple fig, a marvelous future waved and winked at me. One fig was a husband, a happy home and children; another was a famous poet; and another fig was a brilliant teacher; and another fig was E Ge, the amazing literary director; another fig was Europe, Africa and South America; another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a host of lovers with strange names and strange professions; another fig was an Olympic t-shirt; and beyond all those figs, there were many more that I could not distinguish.
I saw myself sitting at the bifurcation of that fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't decide which fig to choose. I loved each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing the rest, and sitting there, unable to choose, the figs began to wrinkle and blacken, and one by one they fell silently to the ground at my feet.
It's a small paragraph that gives a clear perception of the options Plath had, choosing one was to reject the rest; and it didn't lead to what she wanted either. Having everything and nothing at once, because indecision was accompanied by time and was simply spoiling and accelerating the aging of all her perspectives. Each path leads her to face an unwanted bifurcation; she just didn't want to choose.
After recovering the reins of her life, she continues her studies and manages to graduate with honors and obtaining a scholarship to attend the University of Cambridge where she continues writing and publishing; in this period she meets her husband, Ted Hughes (writer and poet).
Plath's loving circumstances, ranging from the top to the unattainable lowering of emotions, the remarkable and somewhat brazen infidelity on her husband's part, plunge her into sadness and disappointment. They decide to move and settle in the United Kingdom, perhaps in the vain hope that everything will be better.
Plath, already in her new home, she became pregnant and soon suffered an abortion; giving way to multiple poems written that portray her bitter experience; the work that best exposes this stage is "Three women". In addition, many tensions and unhealed wounds from the past appear to be emerging at this time.
But, as time went by, she managed to recover from the sorrows and even successfully conceive her two children Frieda and Nicholas; but despite this, her husband was unable to maintain a stable relationship and infidelities continue, now more transcendental and with the poet Assia Wevill. Each one of them was wearing down more Sylvia's fragile thought.
Seeing this and not being able to overcome it, she decides to move away from Hughes and return to London, to an old apartment in which she lived many experiences; according to her, it felt like a good omen: to start from scratch. But after a short time she makes one of the most delicate decisions to make, a new suicide that she succeeds with sorrow. On February 11, 1963, Sylvia takes the children and locks them in her room; she returns to the kitchen where she secures the door and suffocates with gas by putting her head in the oven, voluntarily ending her life at only 30 years of age.
Far from being ignored by the literary community, Plath always had good opportunities to publish his works and achieved some prolonged success, even after death. She was an independent woman in a professional manner, painstaking in writing and making everyone fall in love with her distilling stories of love, disappointment and imagination. However, many of these did not become known until after her death.
One of the details that seems more than ironic is that her ex-husband is the main procurator of the publication of Plath's works; besides that he is the one who selected each one and excludes to his own convenience a great amount of writings where Sylvia describes the amorous sorrows that happened thanks to him.
Sylvia Plath's life with its emotional highs and lows, adding the bad experiences, were always reflected in a poetic and explicit way in her works; she undressed in each one of them.
“Free me from the inexorable cage of routine and habit. I love freedom. I deplore restrictions and limitations. I am me. I am powerful. I think I would like to call myself 'The Girl Who Wanted to Be God.
(Sylvia Plath, in a warrior moment)
Some of her most remarkable works:
- The Crystal Bell.
- Three women.
- A letter to home.
- Unique Writers Challenge.
- Johnny Panic and the Dream Bible.
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