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Suicidal Women in Literature. Some of the most powerful women in writing are unfortunately some with the saddest personal lives. -This is true for Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf, and Sylvia Plath

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Some of the most powerful women in writing are unfortunately some with the saddest personal lives.

-This is true for Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf, and Sylvia Plath

  • When reading these women’s manifestos one sees the hardships that they were facing while alive and the possibilities of equality that these women desired.
mary wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft
  • 1759-1797
  • Wollstonecraft lived during the Romantic Age.
  • She was heavily influenced by the same inspirations as the Romantic poets, especially the idea of revolution.
  • Wollstonecraft believed that if equality for all classes of men was possible, then equality for women was also foreseeable.
vindication of the rights of women
Vindication of the Rights of Women
  • Wollstonecraft’s literary career is most remembered for her essay, “Vindication of the Rights of Women.”
  • In this work, Wollstonecraft presents the idea that women are not inferior than men and that they should not be treated as such.
  • She believed that women should live up to their potential and not allow stereotypes for women influence them.
wollstonecraft s personal life
Wollstonecraft’s Personal Life
  • Wollstonecraft was raised in a household of moderate wealth, with a father who was abusive to his wife.
  • After moving out she acquired some fame with her writing.
  • At 35 Wollstonecraft gave birth to an illegitimate baby girl, Fanny Imlay.
  • Being abandoned by her lover, Gilbert Imlay, Mary attempted to drown herself by jumping into the Thames.
  • Although Wollstonecraft appeared very against marriage she ended up marrying radical philosopher, William Godwin, and died after giving birth to her second daughter, Mary.
  • After her death she was looked down upon.
virginia woolf
Virginia Woolf
  • 1882-1941
  • Woolf was a major influence to the Modernist Period.
  • She rebelled against the concept of “materialism” in her works and avoided normal convention. Held her own voice as a female writer.
  • Woolf believed the position of women socially and professionally needed to reformed.
a room of one s own
A Room of One’s Own
  • In Woolf’s essay, A Room of One’s Own, she discusses the few opportunities for women writers during her time.
  • Woolf wanted females to create their own literature to expose female experiences and perspectives. Also, to cultivate the tenants of the female psyche.
  • Mostly Woolf advocates equality between men and women in literature. She described this literature as “androgynous in mind” (Woolf).
woolf s personal life
Woolf’s Personal Life
  • Woolf was raised in a fairly rich family, and was very well educated.
  • She had many horrors in childhood including sexual abuse, death of her mother and later being completely orphaned by the age of 22.
  • Woolf married when she was 30, but also had a female lover on the side.
  • During her lifetime, Woolf helped publish and inspire other writers, while pushing boundaries in her own works.
  • Woolf privately experienced serious bouts of depression and finally she took her own life, by drowning, at the age of 59.
sylvia plath
Sylvia Plath
  • 1932-1963
  • Post war poet
  • Plath wrote poetry that was confessional.
  • She presented problems, such as lack of self identity, for women during the early 1900’s.
  • Plath was interested in the change of self and the possibilities one could take.
the bell jar
The Bell Jar
  • Plath is most renowned for her fictitious, semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar.
  • In this novel, Plath shows the vulnerability of being a young girl.
  • Her character, Ester, must navigate what is expected of her and what she truly wants.
  • Ester also struggles with her sexuality and with depression.
  • Through her character, Plath shows that women must sometimes choice to live unconventionally.
plath s personal life
Plath’s Personal Life
  • Plath was raised in a small middle class family.
  • Her father died at the age of eight.
  • After attending college, Plath moved to London and married Tom Hughes.
  • The couple produced two children together, but then quickly divorced.
  • Plath almost succeeded in suicide in college and continued being depressed throughout her short lifetime.
  • Plath finally accomplished her goal of killing herself at the age of 30, by sticking her head in the oven.
  • These writers were powerful women with strong convictions. They had ideas of the life that should be led by females.

- Could not handle living against the customs of society.

~Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalot”

-Felt trapped in their roles.

~Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “An Ancient Gesture”

works cited
Works Cited

The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W.W. Norton & Company,2006. p. 167-170, 2080-2082.

Steinburg, Peter K.. A Celebration this is., 2012. Web. 2 March 2012.