Plath pb


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  • Plath pb

    1. 1. Mourning,Melancholy, and Sylvia Plath William Todd Schultz
    2. 2. Previous Psychobiographys on Plath:• Lester (1998) - attributes Plath’s suicide to the theories of Schneidman, Murray, and Beck, and believes Plath suffered from manic-depressive bipolar disorder in the months leading up to her suicide• Shulman (1998) - attributes Plath’s suicide to a wish to join her father, Otto, in death as well as issues of alienation, perfectionism, self hate, and the realization of the failure of her marriage
    3. 3. (Continued)• Thompson (1990) attributes Plath’s suicide to a severe form of PMS• Runco (1998) attributes Plath’s suicide to a “psychoeconomic hypothesis” - deals with time investment theory: Plath felt unwilling to invest anymore time in her creative potential so death was the next course of action
    4. 4. Schultz:• finds fault with these previous psychobiographies because they do not do Plath and her art justice in that they do not follow her actually words/writing, he goes on to note that Plath was very insightful about her own moods/state of mind, so we, as psychobiographers should use what she writes in order to determine theories• also notes that many of these psychobiographies used an abundance of “probably(s)” in their writing, which “gradually lose all qualification”
    5. 5. Main Argument:• correlation between loss and creativity• loss of father, Otto, was the single most salient event in Plath’s life and is the basis for her later suicide• Plath was heavily influenced by Freud’s Mourning and Melancholia, wrote that it described exactly what she was feeling in her journal
    6. 6. Freud’s Mourning and Melancholia• both develop out of loss, but while mourning is not pathological and decreases with time, melancholia is based in extreme dissatisfaction with the self• for Plath, the loss of her father shattered her love for him, she could emotionally overcome this event and therefore extreme self hate developed
    7. 7. (Continued)• this leads to a path of self punishment because it creates a desire to kill this internal object (self) that is causing grief• therefore, suicide is actually an attempt to kill the inner self and rid itself of melancholia• in this way, Plath’s suicide was a murder- suicide, but ultimately still resulted in her own death
    8. 8. (Continued)• Otto’s death was a salient event for Plath because she idolized him - when he died, she claimed “I will never speak to God again” which could account for both a God and Otto• Freud attributes this intense fixation as a result of a “problematic self ” in that (in this case) Plath has no real separation/boundary between herself and others
    9. 9. Schultz:• Ultimately, Schultz believes Plath misunderstood Freud’s true intent in that she immediately attributed the loss of her father to all of her psychological problems - they are definitely a cause, but may not be the only cause• Schultz says to fully understand Plath we must focus on the “why” of her suicide
    10. 10. Critiques:• The previous psychobiographers seemed to “diagnose” Plath - with bipolar disorder, PMS, etc• Schultz continually refers to The Bell Jar’s writings as evidence for Plath’s fixation on her father and hatred of her mother, yet The Bell Jar is a novel written by Plath told from the first person perspective of Esther - we cannot view Esther’s “thoughts” as simply an extension of Plath’s own, however similar, because Plath was creating a character, though the character is quite obviously based on herself, it is still a character
    11. 11. (Continued)• These interpretations made by Schultz do provide a clarification of behavior and fit with the general knowledge of Plath• Though, it did end a bit abruptly in that it laid out the foundation for the explanation/ theories about behavior, but did not explain further on how we can evaluate the “why” of Plath’s suicide