Similar to manyauthors of the twentieth century, Sylvia Plath was largely influenced by herown life experiences. Her poems are often labeled as confessional poems and aresometimes told by a first-person speaker.Because Plath was born in the 1930s, she was writing poems in a Post Modernsociety and was heavily influenced by elements of postmodernism.
This includedthemes of contradiction, complexity, and ambiguity, as well as a reflection onthe fragmentation of life and criticism of the state of society. Plath alsofocused on the oppression of certain societal groups, especially women andtheir conventional place and role in the modern world. Post-Modern art was also known for criticizing traditional conceptsof history. Plath utilized that view in two of her famous poems, “Daddy”, and”Lady Lazarus”, in which she provided interpretations of the Holocaust andWorld War II. As mentionedabove, Plath famously alluded to many traumatic or significant events thatoccurred in her life, including the death and absence of her father, hersuicide attempts, and her general depression. Although some of her works aremore autobiographical than others (“Tulips” describes an experience in ahospital following surgery, “Morning Song” alludes to the cry of one of her childrenduring the night) Plath attempted to incorporate ambiguity into most of herpoems so that they could be interpreted as they related to the reader andapplied to their own experiences. Plath’s use ofambiguity in her poems demonstrates her connection to romantic poetry.
Inaccordance with romanticism, she also utilized nature and animals as sources ofimagery in many of her poems as she felt that they reflected the human psyche.However, her poems also often displayed modernist characteristics, such asallusions to historical events that required more research or backgroundinformation on the subject to be fully understood. Plath was a strong supporterof the feminist movement and displayed her support through many of her poemsand even her novel, “The Bell Jar”. Throughout her life, Plath progressed as awriter stylistically, moving from the use of the ambiguous (present in “BlackRook in Rainy Weather”), like her mentor Robert Lowell, to a style majorlyinfluenced by modernist poetry and more confessional in nature (“LadyLazarus”). Her works will always be viewed as timeless for her ingenious use offragmentation, enjambment, diction, and complex structure in the development ofthemes in her poems.