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ENGL 3603 Study Guide - Final Guide: Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Margaret Edson

Course Code
ENGL 3603
Sally Chivers
Study Guide

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Anne Sexton, “You, Dr. Martin”
The narrator is a woman in an insane asylum addressing her doctor, whom she
sees as "god of our block," taking care of all his "foxy children." His "third eye
moves among us" making him seem powerful and all-seeing but remote. She
keeps herself occupied making moccasins, giving her something to do with her
The narrator, although she is better than she was when she entered the asylum, is
still preoccupied with death and suicide. She counts herself among the "moving
dead" who resist the "thrust of cure." At dinner she comments that there are no
"knives for cutting your throat." Like many of Sexton's poems, this one shows her
obsession with death that led to her own suicide.
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
My mother smiled. "I know my baby wasn't like that."
I looked at her. "Like what?"
"Like those awful people. Those awful dead people at that hospital." She paused.
"I knew you'd decide to be all right again."
It is suggested near the beginning of the novel that, in later years, Esther goes on
to have a baby
The presence of blood suggests a ritual sacrifice: Esther will sacrifice her body for
peace of mind, and sacrifice her virginity for the sake of experience
Early in the novel, Esther reads a story about a Jewish man and a nun who meet
under a fig tree. Their relationship is doomed, just as she feels her relationship
with Buddy is doomed. Later, the tree becomes a symbol of the life choices that
face Esther. She imagines that each fig represents a different life. She can only
choose one fig, but because she wants all of them, she sits paralyzed with
indecision, and the figs rot and fall to the ground
Margaret Edson, W;t
Over the course of the play, Vivian reflects on her life through the intricacies of
the English language, especially the use of wit in the metaphysical poetry of John
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