She changed her name to Higginbottom, E.
And, giggling, raised a glass with all her friends
to New York City and society
where women meet sophisticated men.
The fifties presupposed a white-gloved pace,
the ladder gained by climbing carefully.
We women had the vote but not the grace.
To join man’s world, we lived uncertainly.
Was brave to throw away the steno pad
forsaking all her mother’s imbued schemes
and grab the artist’s life she might have had
but life is not so simple as our dreams.
And so she climbed into her safe cocoon
Thrice turning up the gas to fill the room.
Just finished reading “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath. I lived through those years growing up in the fifties. For most of us, marriage and kids was society’s expectation. Our heroine wanted more; much more and was not good at taking disappointments in stride.
The book seemed to fall apart about midway and perhaps that was her genius. Perhaps that is exactly what she meant the reader to feel- like one is losing their mind and things are “falling apart”.
She was, in real life, driven yet suffering a clinical depression; needing help that did not come and some disappointments she simply could not tolerate.
She tried to kill herself 3 times in real life: once by drowning, once by taking pills after her return from her NY trip and finally succeeding by turning on the gas in a London flat soon after publication of this book.