Sylvia Plath: College

In 1950 Sylvia Plath was accepted into Smith College, an all girls, private liberal arts school in Northampton, Massachusetts. As in her previous schooling, Plath excelled, though she felt the pressure. Not only was she trying to please herself, but was also carrying on for her mother and for Olive Higgins Prouty (the woman who gave many grants to Plath and who later paid for her psychiatric treatment).

Following her third year at Smith, Sylvia went on to edit The Smith Review, which, in 1952, led to her position as guest editor at Mademoiselle magazine in New York City. Sadly, the magazine position was not all Sylvia thought it would be. This time after in Plath’s life can best be described in The Bell Jar when Esther Greenwood slowly goes insane after being refused entrance to a Harvard writing course, as Plath herself was.

Before attempting suicide for the first time (or the first recorded time), Plath underwent electroshock therapy for her depression. This proved to not work when in August of 1953 she, like her character Esther Greenwood, went under her home and overdosed on pills. She was found three days after the incident and hospitalized for six months at McLean Hospital. She underwent another round of electroshock therapy, after which she thought she had entered recovery, which she then went back to school.

Plath graduated from Smith College in June of 1955, her thesis being The Magic Mirror: A Study of the Double in Two of Dostoyevsky’s Novels.

Following Smith College, Plath received a scholarship to continue her studies at Newnham College (apart of Cambridge College). During her time at Newnham, she constantly wrote and was getting published and travelled around England.

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