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Plaid and Plath

October 26th, 2010

Sylvia Plath’s dark autobiography, The Bell Jar piqued my curiosity after reading the recent news article about the discovery of her husband Ted Hughes’ “last letter” to Sylvia. If you are a fan of Plath’s work, then you probably know all about her tormented relationship (with the adulterous Hughes), which later led to her suicide. As interested as I am in reading about tragedy as the next person, I do not go through it without feeling some kind of sympathetic pain, and Sylvia’s life’s story is one of that sort. Normally, people like the idea of violence and depression when they are images and stories they feel distant from, but when things get closer to personal reality, they run for the hills the instant it starts to hit close to home. Syliva’s poem “Mad Girl’s Love Song” is one that I am both fascinated with and personally terrified by. I don’t think I have the strength and the sanity to keep reading the autobiography of someone whose solution to life’s problems was suicide. I get vicariously vulnerable when exposed to her estranged personality and critical cynicism, because I know that I would probably have a bent towards being the same way if I were apart from Christ.

As much as I would like heaven to be the quick solution to all my problems, I know that I would never resort to suicide to get there on a fast track. As insignificant as I may think I am, I still need to carry out what I believe my purpose is. I have a big God to serve and specific people to bless, and I shouldn’t be drowning myself in pity and selfish ambitions. Apart from a knowledge of God and a personal relationship with Christ, our sins lead to death. I cannot imagine a life without the faith to believe that there is more to life than our minuscule laments. That would be no way to live, and I wish that Sylvia had had that knowledge before she took her life. She was such an explosively bright and intuitive writer who could’ve helped other women with similar hurts through her poems, but instead she imploded like a black hole.

Thankfully, my husband is faithful and is open to me about his confessions, but The Bell Jar is just adding to the poison in my mind by making me rejoice in tragedy without hope, while feeding paranoia. I think it’s really important for couples to have regular accountability talks in order to pray for and help each other with problems. You might think that ignorance is bliss and would rather not know about other people’s problems in order to not feel hurt or responsible, but that is an incredibly self-gratifying, foolish, and insidiously dangerous philosophy. Shame on people who think that way!

If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:2

In case you missed it on my Twitter or Facebook accounts, I revived my old Formspring that I never used. Feel free to ask me anything (anonymous or not), but make sure to keep your questions clean and nice! I’ll try to answer everything as much as I can. You can ask questions there or in the good ol’ comments section if you want.

What I wore: Plaid poncho from Harvé Benard given to me by my mother-in-law | leggings from Burlington Coat Factory | rusty, vintage jewelry from Ebay

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35 Responses to “Plaid and Plath”

  1. Shey

    I love your cape Rachel, it’s very cute, good thing you have a mother in law that lets you have her things =)

  2. Natasha Atkerson

    Cute cape! That books kind of sounds creepy (no offense!) I’m just not into creepy. I’m into drama, just not violence. :)
    A Modest Fashion Blog:

  3. Belle

    Good article. THank you, sister!

  4. Krystal/Village

    This was so interesting to read your perspective on The Belle Jar. I remember reading it and feeling depressed for like a week – it is so sad.

  5. jamie-lee

    can i have your cape pretty please? xx

  6. Rachel @ à la Modest

    It’s not a creepy or a violent book. It’s drama.

  7. Victoria / Justice Pirate

    yey for plaid ponchos. I have never been interested in Sylvia Plath. I feel too sorry for her to want to read her things, if that makes sense? Suicide makes me really sad that people can’t work on their problems and seek help. . . .

  8. WMV

    Amazing poncho!

  9. Wall flower

    The poncho is to die for – but let’s talk about that amazing necklace -!! Well done!

  10. Manx

    Great poncho!

  11. Victoria / Justice Pirate

    the sexual scenes and party scenes in Teen Wolf were just too absurd for me! i had only ever seen a T.V. edited version that I did like as a kid. I have seen Teen Wolf 2, but it’s been a LONG time since I have (also a T.V. version). I think I was 6 when I saw each of them! I did however find Jason Bateman to be cute when I was a kid. I just loved The Hogan Family T.V. show that he was in back in the 80s. haha.

    How is your brother-in-law doing?

    You left another comment in the past to me, so in response about things back then, I really do agree that you and I should have sponsors considering our stances on things.

    Life of Brian. . there is a whole entire scene where he is standing with full frontal nudity towards a crowd. He had just had sex with a girl and woke up in the morning so she too is naked and they show her. So yeah. . it is not one quick second glance either. I haven’t seen that movie for about 8 years, but I do recall that scene too well. THere also is a scene where they call a guy “Biggus Dickus” and they really are talking about penis sizes. I used to find it funny as a kid, but now it makes me sad.

  12. Hannie

    I LOVE it! Very cool, stylish, fall-like…I think this is one of the best looks I seen this week ♥
    xoxo from Hannie

  13. sweet

    I think I haven’t read anything good and relevant lately…the last book was the art of snobbery!!!

    I love the plaid cape my dear!!! you look gorgeous as always…I was thinking of Little Red Riding Hood…and the boots are awesome too…


  14. Ychie

    amazing plaid coat..wow chic!!

  15. PO

    LOVE this poncho.

  16. My Republic of Fashion

    That plaid poncho is AMAZING!!! :)SarahD

  17. closet fashionista

    OOOH! Love that poncho, I want it, hah

  18. Victoria / Justice Pirate

    In that case it seems to me he is more concerned about losing his relationship with Christ that can be even deeper by putting an idol of his girlfriend first. . .but I guess that would sound really harsh to most people. I know you’ll understand what I mean though.

  19. ellinor

    Nice cape and it fits so perefctly with the environment. Lovely blog. Visit mine when you have time.


  20. Ally

    that cape is soooo yummy looking!! it looks soooo comfy yet cute:) you look amazing! you are truly an inspiration!

  21. arnique

    I could never read Sylvia Plath’s poems without getting the shivers (“oh the humanity!”) and I tend to only read happy poems (Belloc and Lear) and books with happy endings so I’ve stopped only for Metaphor (“I’m a riddle in nine syllables”) which we took up in the 7th grade.

    I love your plaid capelet. I couldn’t look good in it but it reminds me of Gigi, which is one of my favourite movies. If you haven’t seen it, you ought! I think you’ll like it. Poveda made us watch in several times for HomeEc and I think it gave B and I mixed passive-aggressive ideas about growing up. :))

    Arianne from A + B in the Sea

  22. Katie @ Beautifully Pure

    Aw! What a cute outfit! I love your cape! <3

    I never knew how real a problem depression was until it hit close to home. One of my best friends was anorexic – a friend I used to follow quite blindly. To this day I believe God used my "big sis" to save me from that same hurt and pain, because it would have been very easy for me to follow her into that same dark hole.

    (Oh, and to answer your question, I’m from IL an my extended family is – everywhere. ;-D)

    ~ Katie

  23. Katie @ Beautifully Pure

    (Oh! And the other “Dahl” in the comments was my cousin. :) )

  24. Missy S

    i love the dramatic feel in this photo! lovely :)

  25. Rachel @ à la Modest

    I do agree. I’ve been contemplating on not reading her autobiography because it makes me feel worse and doesn’t offer light at all. Very depressing!

  26. Rachel @ à la Modest

    It makes me think of a more stylish Snuggie!

  27. Rachel @ à la Modest

    Thank you! I was just wearing socks, though lol.

  28. Victoria / Justice Pirate

    also, not sure if you’re interested at all, but I plan on making soon a link list on my Ruby-Eyed Okapi. For now though I would love it if you could put one of the badges up on your blog (or make your own) that says, “MODEST CONSCIOUS BLOGGER” that has a hyperlink to my ruby-eyed okapi blog: http://rubyeyedokapi.blogspot.com and you’ll see them on the left frame.

    that would be really great to start seeing Modest conscious blogger badges on different blogs.

  29. Victoria / Justice Pirate

    by the way, I didn’t realize you did so much web design stuff. you’re amazing. I just looked at your old portfolio. wow. how much do you charge?

  30. Victoria / Justice Pirate

    No, I was thinking it more for Ruby-Eyed Okapi because the girl that the other co-founder has (who did the blog for us) was going to do a site for us for free as well but it’s been over 6 months since she was going to do that. . .and although everyone who contributes to it does care about modesty and purity, they hardly ever do anything at all and so I’ve been going in full force and wanting things to be created so that I can advertise more and eventually get products made up and go to big shows like Revelation Generation and whatever Christian festivals go on like that. I guess you can say I’ve become impatient now that we’ve been in the works of things for nearly a year come next month and I’m tired of the planning and ready for the action. haha.

  31. Tokyo

    Love everything!

  32. Kristina Clemens

    I have been wanting to read The Bell Jar for a while now. It’s always out at my library. Wanted you to know I really respect your stance on modesty. I’m a clothing designer and modesty is a platform I strongly stand on.
    Kristina J.

  33. Sarah

    Love love LOVE that plaid!!!!!
    Hope you’re doing well Rachel!

  34. Mothers of the Same Fate: Plath & Sexton | à la Modest :: creative cover-up couture

    […] I withdrew myself some time ago from continuing  to read the Bell Jar, a semi-autobiography by Sylvia Plath, because it hurt me so darn much to read it. It was like revisiting my nightmares—nightmares that more often than not creep into my waking life and torment me. Some people can read a piece of literature for the sheer enjoyment of it, observing a fictional account of a life from a distance. This novel in particular, however, grabbed a familiar, stale knife from my quiet kitchen and insidiously stabbed me with it. It is a funny feeling, however, to want it but at the same time hate it. Plath is like crack to my brain, but I’m making the best out of my experience with her writing by using this whole personal attraction to tragedy for good. […]

  35. Mafalda C.

    She is without a doubt one of my favourite writers, and I feel very close to her pain. It was upon her to chose and she did, repeatedly, until one day she did succeed. I don’t think we can blame someone who hasn’t the strength to overcome their obstacles and decides not to pursue a life of misery instead.
    I think your look for these photos is just incredible, fall really becomes you! Very inspirational, too :)

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