Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Atkinson, Ted B.

Committee Member

West, Robert M.

Committee Member

O'Neill, Bonnie C.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access



Degree Name

Master of Arts


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of English


In 1953, Sylvia Plath broke her leg while skiing. This event permeated her writing across genres, retold at least eight times, each with a unique perspective based on the genre and her intended audience. While she told the story non-fictionally in her journals, she also adapted the story for letters to her mother and friends and fictionalized the event in short stories and The Bell Jar. This thesis will examine 8 versions of the same event – critically examining how the culture and gender expectations of the 1950s and 1960s influenced her writing depending on her audience. This examination of the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction will work to help eliminate the assumption in certain current scholarship that all events in Plath’s fiction can be used to examine and explain her suicide. The chapters will be divided by genre of writing, with a conclusion on the implications for future Plath studies.