header
   

Her Novels Make Mine Possible
The Influence of Virginia Woolf on Sylvia Plath

In “Ariel,” Plath encapsulates her memory of a runaway horseback ride while a student at Cambridge. The language of the poem recalls Esther’s improperly executed electric shock treatments in Plath’s novel, The Bell Jar. Here, in a passage that Plath marked in her copy of Jacob’s Room, Woolf’s description of a horseback rider mirrors the language and motion of Plath’s “Ariel.” However, while Woolf’s rider is jerked from his position of command and rides until his horse comes to a halt, Plath’s persona, after being thrown against her will with her dead limbs flailing, takes control of her flight, asserting, “I am the arrow / suicidal at one with the drive.” Image: book spread
Virginia Woolf. Jacob’s Room. London: Hogarth Press, 1954.

Image: 3 pages
Sylvia Plath. “Ariel”: holograph, 27 October 1962.

Click on any image to open it at full size in a new window.

Sylvia Plath Collection
Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College

next case | return home

Terms of Use | Return to Top

   
  footer  
Need Help?  Ask a Librarian! Smith College Libraries Smith College Web Smith College Directory Smith College Moodle Course Management System Smith College Email Smith College BannerWeb system Smith College Libraries on Facebook Smith College Libraries Mobile Website Smith College Libraries Suggestion Box