Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Laura Nicosia

Committee Member

Jeffrey Gonzalez

Committee Member

Adam Rzepka


Sylvia Plath is a renowned Confessionalist poet from the early-mid 20th century in America. She frequently compares to her predecessor, Robert Lowell, and her friend and colleague, Ann Sexton. Confessionalism was an emotionally authentic form of poetry that split off from prior poetry, such as Modernism. Modernist founder T.S Eliot wrote in his “Tradition and The Individual Talent,” “Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality” (1). Despite this mentality, Confessionalists addressed the elephant in the room: the fragmented and emotionally disturbed nation. With the use of biographical, cathartic poetry, Confessionalism gave birth to raw emotion and brought to the forefront all taboos: sex, gender roles, patriarchy, drugs, mental health, and suicide. A collection of renowned poets, including Plath, exposed their trauma to reflect the hurt of the times. Despite the commonalities, Sylvia Plath trod a different path of articulation and imagery throughout her works. Her poems use caricatures, frequent enjambments, and the terror of emotional disturbance to bring to light the role of a “victim of introspection” (Plath 25). This essay demonstrates the uniqueness of Plath’s Confessionalist style and how her status stands amongst her colleagues and mentor, Lowell.

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