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Space and Infelicitous Place in the Poetry of Sylvia Plath
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2011 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Sylvia Plath’s poetry has received considerable critical attention with respect to a wide range of themes and critical approaches. Variously labeled feminist, political, mythical and suicidal, Plath has been subject to enormous biographical scrutiny but the critical responses available today offer increasingly nuanced understandings of Plath’s work.  However, sufficient attention has not been given to the significant prevalence of images of places and spaces in Plath’s poetry. With particular focus on a selection of poems from The Collected Poems, this thesis argues that the personae in the poems confront “infelicitous places” and that the poems resonate with a tension between place (here referring to a space that is delimited by certain values) and space (in the sense of an expansion without the restrictions of place). What I here refer to as infelicitous place can be understood as an inversion of Gaston Bachelard’s conception of “felicitous space” and accounts for the way in which places in Plath’s poetry are marred with anxiety and ambivalence as opposed to Bachelard’s benevolent, protective spaces. The places and spaces in the poems are dealt with in relation to the notion of infelicitous place, as well as the significance of walls and the affinity between place and poetics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Plath, space, place, Bachelard
National Category
Specific Literatures
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-62615OAI: diva2:443528
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2011-09-30 Created: 2011-09-26 Last updated: 2011-09-30Bibliographically approved

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