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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Paul Alexander

The feminine force

On Feb. 11, 1963, Sylvia Plath was found dead in her London flat. With her young son and daughter locked in an upstairs bedroom, she gassed herself in the kitchen. She had long battled depression. This final, deadly bout began the previous summer when her marriage to the poet Ted Hughes disintegrated, a casualty of his infidelity. At her death, Plath had written more than 220 poems, a novel, short stories, a children’s book, essays, letters — most of the work unpublished. She was 30.

When her poetry collection “Ariel” appeared in 1966, it became a sensation. Using vivid, precise language, Plath documented subjects vital to her — motherhood, marriage, betrayal, suicide. In poems like “Daddy” and “The Applicant,” searing indictments of a disloyal husband, Plath accosted Hughes with a fury rarely seen in literature. Hers was a singular, powerful female voice.

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