The feminist individuality: remembering Sylvia Plath

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.”

I happen to come across today one of our fellow blogger’s nice article on Sylvia Plath‘s book The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. I haven’t read this particular work of Plath, but in her autobiographical novel Bell Jar, the central character (Esther) was similarly wistful, laden with the sense of not belonging, fighting inwards to evade the existential crisis she was having not being able to find her role as a woman as society bestows upon her neither being able to console herself with the fact how the world would move on, even without her, wiping out her existence into oblivion. The coming in terms with one’s mortality, which is always looked down upon as petty midlife crisis on the part of some bored housewives, were, in an abrupt motion, depicted as something pensive and melancholy.

Apart from Esther there was another crucial female character in the tale, Doreen who was somewhat of an antithesis of Esther, neither impaired by loneliness nor wistfully brooding over death, decay and eventuality. She was rather the rebellious one, taking life by its throat, living or trying to live on her own terms. The relation between these two character, the stark contrast and the deep underlying feeling of sisterhood, in spite of the apparent scorn, is something I feel the best feature of this novel.

In Plath’s writing the affirmation of individuality and individualism of woman, I found was strongest, even stronger than in the work in Woolf. The vast impression Plath left, not only in the realm of literature, but also during second wave feminism and the way she provoked the world of psychiatry, though may not be attributed more on a chance factor than her own intentions, are all too commendable. I would not endeavour to wrap Plath up in these place of a few paragraphs and look preposterous, neither I would see her through the same eyes of literary admirer pained by her being ‘highjacked’ by the feminists and psychiatrist. What Plath, a literary genius, achieved should be beyond literature itself, and it is high time we embraced it.

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One response to “The feminist individuality: remembering Sylvia Plath

  1. Thanks for the plug. You’ve inspired me to write my next Plath post on some of her early reflections about the tension between writing and being a wife.

    Thanks again.

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