Writing on Women Writers

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The Presence of Plath’s Mental Illness in “Edge”

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Sylvia Plath had a constant battle with mental illness from a young age, but persisted though her struggles of bipolar disorder until she took her own life.

 

“It was now February 11, and Sylvia Plath prepared to die. She left food and drink for her children in their room and opened a window. In the hallway, she attached a note with her doctor’s name and number to the baby carriage. She sealed the kitchen as best she could with tape, towels, and cloths. Then she turned on the gas and thrust her head as far as she could into the oven.” -Carl Rollyson- The Boston Globe 

 

Unknown

 

 

Six days prior to her death she penned the poem “Edge.” She writes,

 

The woman is perfected.

Her dead

Body wears the smile of accomplishment,

The Illusion of a Greek necessity

Flows in the scrolls of her toga,

Her Bare

Feet Seem to be saying;

We have come so far, it is over.

Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,

One at each little

Pitcher of milk, now empty.

She had folded

Them back into her body as petals

Of a rose close when the garden

Stuffens and odors bleed

From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.

The moon has nothing to be sad about,

Staring from her hood to bone.

She is used to this sort of thing.

Her blacks crackle and drag (818).

 

 

Plath writes omnipotently about her death, obviously knowing what she was going to do in a few days.  In the first lines, “Her Body is Perfected/ Her dead/ Body wears the smile of accomplishment.”  The speaker is obviously pleased that they have died. The have died on their own accord, thus bringing a state of bliss- the smile of accomplishment of their face. The poem continues to writes “Her bare/Feet seem to be saying:/ We have come so far, it is over.” The speaker is obviously relieved they no longer have to walk the hard life they were once walking in. Plath continues to writes “The moon had nothing to be sad about./ Staring from her hood of bone./She is used to this sort of thing./ Her blacks crackle and drag” The moon is refering to the speaker- someone who no longer needs to be sad about anything, because now all of their sadness is over.

Being so in tandem with her suicide, one may assume the speaker of this poem is Plath herself, giving her last goodbye to the world in the only way she knew how- though her poetry.

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