Date of Submission

Spring 2019

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Literature; Gender and Sexuality Studies

Project Advisor 1

Matthew Mutter

Project Advisor 2

Elizabeth Frank

Abstract/Artist's Statement

“It Seemed a Lucky Thing” centers a discussion of author and self around the works of Sylvia Plath, primarily using her novel The Bell Jar and two of her Ariel works, “Lady Lazarus” and “Daddy”. Blending together various ideas of self-construction, ranging from Kierkegaard’s aesthetics to Foucault’s “What is an Author?” to issues of psychiatry as a method of social control, the work defines its principle term “self-authorship” as the purposeful construction of self-image inherent in both decisions within a lived life and in the process of creating written art.

Self-authorship and its complications are addressed both in context of Esther Greenwood, the main character of The Bell Jar, and in context of Sylvia Plath herself. Her poetry is intensely analyzed, revealing difficult and at times confounding questions. What is “honest experience”? How far can we fabricate our experience? What lies within the satire and irony of The Bell Jar’s multi-layered narrative? Why and how does Plath force the reader to see both fiction and non-fiction, to question intention and meaning, and create friction in separating and combining the two? What does this reveal about the nature of a poem and of a novel? While ultimately much of what is revealed with self-authorship and Plath is somewhat paradoxical and practically unanswerable, the work, at the very least, addresses interesting questions around the nature of creation, both of art and of self.

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Open Access

Creative Commons License

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