“My tree stays tree”: Sylvia Plath and Ovid’s Daphne

  • Holly RangerEmail author

Critical appraisals of Sylvia Plath’s oeuvre remain dominated by psychoanalytic readings that conflate the writer’s life and work.1 Poems such as ‘Electra on Azalea Path’ are presented as emblematic of what is perceived to be Plath’s autobiographical identification with – and self-positioning in her work as – Electra-mourning-Agamemnon (Plath’s father, Otto Plath, died of complications related to untreated diabetes shortly after her eighth birthday).2One consequence of this biographical bias is that when the presence of classical allusion in her work is noted, scholarly focus falls on Plath’s brief references to Greek tragedy. This critical fallacy has been encouraged, in part, by her husband Ted Hughes, who figured Plath explicitly as Electra in his poem, ‘The Hidden Orestes’, and who wrote of Plath’s poem ‘The Eye-mote’, in which the blinded speaker dreams ‘I am Oedipus’, that ‘[t]he mention of Oedipus, and the Greek Tragedians’ figures elsewhere, may seem literary, but if one can...


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Classical StudiesLondonUK

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