Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.770514
Title: The courage of shutting-up : decisions of silence in the work of Sylvia Plath
Author: O'Brien, Maeve
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 0630
Awarding Body: Ulster University
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2017
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Abstract:
This thesis is the first complete study of the decisions of silence made by Sylvia Plath in her writing. In order to accomplish this, I argue that a nuanced account of silence is a crucial to understanding its central role in Plath's work. With acknowledgment of the forced silences that oppressed Plath and women writers in general, this thesis asserts that silence is also ambiguous and as such can be re­read as a revelatory and transformative space, especially for women writers given their close proximity to silence throughout history. Accordingly, in this thesis I outline three key decisions of silence that Plath made throughout her writing life. Firstly, I state that Plath made conscious choices of isolation both socially and geographically in order to aid her writing process and gain inspiration for her craft. I suggest that the isolation Plath chose produced a safe space out of which she grew words. Secondly, I argue that Plath used silence in conjunction with words in order to poeticise problematic issues such as the horrors of the Second World War and the mass mechanised deaths of millions in Nazi consentration camps. By combining silence with words, I contend that Plath was able to produce meaning and expression that would otherwise be left unspoken. Thirdly, this thesis suggests that Plath embarked upon a writing strategy whereby she used silence as a language in order to break free from the textual restrictions of Standard English. Evidenced most clearly in her final poems written in 1963, I argue that we may read Plath's cutting of words and utilisation of blank spaces of silence as an attempt to pulse her writings with meaning and emotion that cannot be expressed in Standard English. By framing this thesis specifically around the decisions of silence Plath made, autonomy is restored to her writing process. Further, this thesis insists that the methodology of reading silences can be considered a useful tool to recover and re-interpret the work of Plath and women’s writing in general.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.770514  DOI: Not available
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