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Type: Journal article
Title: To Be Playing to the Gallery of Oneself Alone: The Motif of Enclosure after WW II in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Some Selected Poems
Author: Feridoun Pour, A.
Citation: Plath Profiles, 2012; 5:324-350
Publisher: Indiana University Bloomington Libraries ; IUScholarWorks
Issue Date: 2012
ISSN: 2155-8175
Statement of
Azadeh Feridounpour
Abstract: More than a decade after the end of WW II two important and transforming shocks were administered to American poetry: Allen Ginsberg's Howl (1956) and Robert Lowell's Life Studies (1959). Their poems anticipated and explored strains in American social relations which were to issue in the open conflicts of the 1960s and 1980s, namely the public unrest about the uses of government and industrial power; the institutions of marriage and family; the rights of racial minorities and of women. Post-war poets soon began to claim their independence in poetic manifestos, and this was the point where many began to react to the very strict and rigid methods of their academic training, which were intensely based on an English curriculum, studying critical essays of contemporary poets and critics, thinking of a poem as something totally objective and composing it in intricate stanzas and rhymes as a sign of a civilized mind's power to explore and tame raw experience. Triggered, then, was the emergence of the more exploratory styles of the 1950s and 1960s, extending the subject matter of poetry to more explicit and extreme areas of autobiography. On the other hand, a new mainstream was emerging in American fiction as well. According to Tony Tanner in The City of Words (1971), the cultivation of an inner space by the writer and his/her hero in contemporary American fiction was a recurrent one. This is exactly what Sylvia Plath traces in her works. This paper will focus on these cultural and political shifts and tensions, reflected in Plath's works, who was always hateful of being trapped in the routine of an ordinary life, especially that of a housewife in the 1950s and 1960s. I will shed light on the resulting sense of enclosure under all these pressures from the external world felt by a post-war woman poet who also suffered from manic depression.
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