Sylvia Plath and Ann Sexton Discussion Questions
Daddy• Examine images of the father that relate to huge size and a monstrous body. consider what kind of sexual/oppressive associations the images have.• In this poem, Plath “kills” the father. But the poem also shows the love/ attachment between father and daughter. What particular parts of the poem reflect the love/hate relationship the speaker has with her father?• What images or sections of the poem particularly frame the father/daughter relationship in terms of WWII death camps where Jews and gypsy’s were murdered?• Where does Plath particularly equate “daddy” with the vampire? How does the vampire myth function in the poem?
Lady Lazerus• Like “Daddy,” LL makes use of images relating to the German death camps. How do these images describe Plath’s body that survived a suicidal attempt?• In what part of the poem does Plath refer to her body as a circus attraction? How dos this comment on the public’s curiosity about celebrities? Where in the poem does she describe herself as a saint who has performed a miracle?• At the end of the poem, which describes her resurrection, she is not a holy figure. What kind of a figure does she come by as after rising from the dead? Do you think her anger is connected with her need to kill herself?
Ann Sexton• In “Little Girl, my String Bean, My Lovely Woman” Discuss images of the body and the changes into womanhood• What is Sexton trying to tell her daughter about the body and being a woman?• Does she talk to her daughter about sex? Where? And what does she say?
Sylvia’s Death• in “Sylvia’s Death” What is her relationship with Sylvia Plath?• How does she feel about her suicide and her desire for death?• How would you compare and contrast Sexton’s view of death with Sylvia’s in Lady Lazarus?