Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: August 2019

Chapter 7 - Plath’s Whimsy

from Part II - Literary Technique and Influence


Will May returns us to Plath’s early reception, and finds there a vital but overlooked context for her work: the whimsical. Taking seriously Plath’s fascination with the unthreatening fantasy worlds of children’s stories and their attendant winsome philosophy, May rehabilitates a literary term that has often been used disparagingly by the Movement poets. Instead, he shows us how indebted Plath’s dark comedy and verbal games are to whimsy. With close attention to her children’s stories, May unveils Plath’s cultural conversation with the domestic, the miniature and the absurd, though she herself was disingenuous about her interventions with whimsy. May debunks any notion that Plath’s poetry and stories belong in separate spheres. Neither, he argues, does her children’s writing.