In popular mythology, poet Sylvia Plath is regarded as a tragic suicide and/or a feminist martyr. If you read her journals and letters, though, you learn that she loved to cook, loved to eat, and often devoted as much time to preparing meals for her husband Ted Hughes as she did to her writing. Cooking was, in fact, often a convenient distraction when she had writer's block, or did not want to prepare classes for teaching, or when she was pregnant and longed for no more intellectual challenge than reading recipes from her beloved Joy of Cooking or The Ladies’’ Home Journal. Plath's huge appetite and enjoyment of food and eating are evident in her sensuous descriptions of meals that sometimes resemble Keats's poetry for their voluptuous appreciation of textures, shapes, colors, tastes, and ambiance. Plath's investment in the role of domestic goddess came to an abrupt end with the breakup of her marriage. The final pages of the article explore Plath's underlying skepticism toward the traditional role of women she had outwardly seemed to embrace so enthusiastically. The Bell Jar's heroine, Esther Greenwood, has a jaundiced view of love and marriage and falls ill of food-poisoning at a banquet prepared by Food Testing Kitchens at a magazine that sounds suspiciously like The Ladies’’ Home Journal. Poems in Ariel portray cooking as dangerous and kitchens as either scary or suffocating for women. In conclusion, the article looks at what we know about Plath's final days, where testimony confirming her hearty appetite seems oddly incongruous with evidence about the depth of her despair.
Research Article| February 01 2010
Lucent Figs and Suave Veal Chops: Sylvia Plath and Food
lynda k. bundtzen
lynda k. bundtzen
lynda k. bundtzen is Herbert H. Lehman Professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies at Williams College in Massachusetts. She is the author of two books on Sylvia Plath: Plath's Incarnations: Woman and the Creative Process and The Other ARIEL. She is currently finishing a book on Ted Hughes, tentatively titled ““The Reluctant Confessor: Ted Hughes Before and After Birthday Letters.””
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Gastronomica (2010) 10 (1): 79–90.
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lynda k. bundtzen; Lucent Figs and Suave Veal Chops: Sylvia Plath and Food. Gastronomica 1 February 2010; 10 (1): 79–90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2010.10.1.79
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