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Tuesday, April 24 • 9:20am - 9:40am
Alienation And The Grotesque In Sylvia Plath’s Ariel Poems

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In 1965, two years after Sylvia Plath’s suicide, many of Plath’s last poems were published in a poetry collection called Ariel. Early critical responses, and even some today, focus on the biographical relation between Plath’s mental illness and her work—reading her poetry through the lens of confessional poetry. However, I will focus solely on analysis of the literary craft and function of her poems, without influence on biographical context. I will argue that a major theme in this poetry collection is alienation, which is brought to life through utilization of grotesque images. Alienation has various causes, depending on each of the speakers’ situations. Fear of death or disconnect from a particular “role” imposed upon by societal expectations are a few reasons behind feelings of alienation. Plath’s speakers use grotesque language as a dialect of alienated individuals. To the readers, the grotesque images tend to provoke shock and threaten their comfort zones—in a way, showing the readers how alienation feels. Plath’s utilization of grotesque language is a way in which the speakers can communicate the nature of alienation, its functions, and its aesthetic and philosophical implications and complexities.


Tuesday April 24, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am PDT
232 Karpen Hall

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