Did Feminism Kill Sylvia Plath?

In 1963, at the age of thirty, the brilliant American poet Sylvia Plath committed suicide in her London flat leaving behind two small children. She had suffered from depression since her early twenties and showed signs of considerable mental instability throughout most of her life. Some of her psychological difficulties arose from the death of her father when she was just eight, but feminism undoubtedly played a significant role in her untimely demise.

Sylvia Plath

Feminism may have played a role in Sylvia Plath’s chronic psychological difficulties. She felt oppressed by white men, especially her dead father. (Image: public domain)

Plath’s liberal use of her sharp tongue suggests serious trouble with an inner tyrant critic. Those who lash out at others are usually just as hard – or harder – on themselves. A prolonged habit of ruthless self-criticism leads to self-alienation. This would go a long way towards explaining her eager embracing of feminism, a belief system that would allow her to project both her rejected authentic self and her inner tyrant critic onto conveniently available (specifically) white males. If being so selective sounds farfetched, it is worth noting that Plath (who was Caucasian) identified with Jews, African Americans, and Orientals. Clearly, she believed herself to be the object of some kind of discrimination.

Continue reading “Did Feminism Kill Sylvia Plath?”