From “The Small Doll” to “The Lioness”: The Reversal of Master/Slave Role in Sylvia Plath’s Selected Poems

Atoosa Shahsavari, Fahimeh Naseri, Abdolmohammad Movahhed


Written in the last two years of her life, selected poems of Sylvia Plath such as, “The Jailer”, “Three Women”, “Fever103°”, “Purdah”, “Daddy”, “Lady Lazarus”, and “Edge” reveal that the speaker’s inevitable movement towards her final suicide is rooted in her enslavement by men in society. This is observed by reading these poems in the light of Simon De Beauvoir’s dichotomy of master-slave in The Second Sex, with application of terms like “the other”, “realm of the women”, “double demand”, “servant”, and “enchantress”. In this article it is argued that the speaker manages to reverse the dichotomy and becomes the master of her own fate by committing suicide. To the best of my knowledge the application of De Beauvoir’s theory to the above-mentioned poems has not been done before; therefore, it can shed new light on how power relations between men and women are reversed in these poems.


Sylvia Plath, Suicide, Feminism, Simon De Beauvoir, Master-Slave Dichotomy

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