Plath Poetry Paper


This paper is a close reading analysis and contextualization of 4 lines of one of Plath’s poems. 

  • For a better understanding of what is meant by a “close reading analysis,” please revisit the work we did on building a commentary of “Edge” (attached). 
  • In terms of “contextualization” you need to provide and understanding of the lines you picked within the larger frame of the poem.  You should address the lines’ context in terms of the literal sequence of their place in the poem and more importantly their functional or figurative significance within the whole of the poem.  It is the effect of the lines on the reader and the function of them within the poem that should be the basis of your thesis statement.

For this paper you must select 4 lines from one of the Plath poems we have studied, excluding “Edge:”

“Burning the Letters”


“In Plaster”


“Poppies in July”


“Two Sisters of Persephone”

“Words heard, by accidence, over the phone”



  • Your paper must be 500-650 words long.  You must include your word count (count the words actually in your paper—ignore your heading and title) at the end of your paper.
  • Your paper must be typed, 12 pt. Times or Arial font, 1” margins.
  • You must turn in 2 copies of each “part of your paper” (as detailed below).  You may want to print a 3rd copy for yourself as a backup.
  • You may not submit the parts of your paper to me via email.  However, if you have questions or want to run your thesis by me before turning the parts of your paper in, you may email them to me.
  • Each assignment for this paper is due during a given week. You may not work on future parts of your paper without getting my comments.


PARTS OF YOUR PAPER (all parts are mandatory)

Paper Proposal:  Refer to the handout “Writing a Paper Proposal” for the parameters of this part of your paper in addition to covering the following:

·        The four lines you wish to analyze must be included at the start of your proposal (before the thesis).  Please type them in poetic form and include a citation after the lines indicating which poem they are from and which line numbers they are.*

·        Your brief outline should be an outline of the points you plan to prove with brief references back to words or techniques within the lines you’ve chosen you plan on using to prove your points.

Your paper proposal is due no later than Wednesday, 11/26 by noon.

(*Since no lines can be used by more than one student, I highly recommend that you submit your proposal a.s.a.p. to secure your chances for getting the lines you wish you analyze.  First come, first dibs.)


Draft 1:  AFTER your proposal has been approved, write a complete first draft of your paper.  This draft is due no later than 4 pm, 12/8. 

Draft 2:  AFTER getting comments back on draft 1, revise your paper and submit your second draft.  Attach a note with this draft telling me which two aspects of your paper you want me to comment on. This draft is due no later than 4 pm, 12/15.

Critical Reflection:  tba…  If assigned, this will be due before you leave for winter break.