Today’s post was inspired by the Colvinator, as we call my English teacher. American Literature. Fun. ACtually, today, it was fun. I was attentive; you see dog’s ears prick forward when they hear you rustle their bag of food or offer them a treat. I felt like I got a treat today. That treat was Sylvia Plath.
I think the reason I adore Sylvia is because, as a writer, I look for small details in the craft of others to put away for later. A writer’s style may seem consistent to a reader, but it is constantly changing, growing, evolving. So, in order to supplement that change, I read frequently.
I first picked up The Bell Jar by Plath after watching 10 Things I Hate About You for the millionth time. That millionth time, I was able to catch the title and author of the book Julia Stiles is reading in the movie. I picked it up at the library because when I see the same book over and over again, I become curious. This time, my curiosity paid off. She is one of my favorite, if not my favorite, authors. Plath tells it exactly as it is, not dulling it to make it more pleasant to the reader. Truth seems to be one of her great focuses, even if it isn’t direct.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is…
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day like a terrible fish.
You can really relate to her writing. Even some of the experiences in The Bell Jar–which are collectively depressing–remind me of some aspects in my life. That’s why I find “Mirror” (or any of her writing to be accurate): it’s real. People look in the mirror in the morning and mourn over their lost youth. “She rewarded me with tears and and agitation of hands…and in me an old woman rises toward her day after day like a terrible fish.” That last line pretty much sums up the view the US takes on aging. It is extremely insightful, even over 25 years later.
Sadly, after two attempts at suicide, Sylvia Plath’s third attempt was successful. She did young, beautiful, and talented. It’s unfortunate that she threw away her wonderful gift away. To quote the Colvinator’s thoughts: “There are changes in life, natural chagnes all around you in society, family, and so on. You can deal with it, or you can’t.” Ms. Plath obviously couldn’t, but her life was full of sad events and people who were horrible to her. This is my heartfelt ode to one of the most talented American writers of all time.
How did I know that someday-at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere-the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn’t descend again?
~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar