Sylvia Plath, born in 1932 in Boston, is one of the most celebrated post-war English poets. Her poetry is linked with the confessional and autobiographical school. She was the daughter of Otto Plath who was a German immigrant and a college professor. He married one of his students named Aurelia Schober. Sylvia’s father died when she was only 9 years old. The early death of her father left a breach in her life. Many critics believe that the absence of the fatherly figure has greatly disturbed the personality and life of Sylvia. Most of her work is linked with an authoritative figure, the oppression of the weak, or the death.
Feminist writers believe that Sylvia was the perfect epitome of the oppression of the male dominant society. They assert that Sylvia’s suicide resulted from the presence or the absence of the male authoritative figure in her life. Sylvia committed suicide when she was at the peak of her creative ability. She left two young children and her nearly-divorced husband and a famous poet Ted Hughes. She killed herself by consuming the gas from a kitchen oven. The extramarital affair of her husband is the reason, which is often related to her death. Although, her last suicide attempt was not her first attempt to leave this mortal world. In her twenties also, she tried to kill herself by having sleeping pills. She was hospitalized after that incident and took a little time to recover.
Many of her poems show her obsession with the death and pain. Critics believe that the bad relationship with her husband is not the only reason behind her death. The early death of her father left a crucial vacuum in her personality and may be declared as real culprit of her suicide. Her poem “Daddy” perfectly depicts her obsession with her father and the feelings of aggression for her father on his early departure. She faced problem in the development of her personality. The absence of her father significantly influenced her life and in her poem “Daddy”, it is evident that she desperately wanted to do away with all the feelings connected to her father.
She published two major volumes of her poetry: The Colossal and The Ariel. She also showed her expertise in fiction writing in her major fiction work, The Bell Jar. This novel is considered as a biographical novel in which a nineteen-year-old female protagonist and narrator, Ester, experiences the psychological breakdown and the subsequent recovery.
Her work has a dominative tone of aggression against authoritative figures. She was the voice of female rebellion against male dominance and the pure an untarnished feelings of love, despair, friendship, pain, and death.