A Madwoman or Crippled by Society? A Study of Disability and Depression in Plath’s Poems


  • Mahnoor Sher MPhil Scholar, Department of English and Applied Linguistics, University of Peshawar, Pakistan & Lecturer, Fazaia College of Education for Women, Peshawar (Affiliated with Air University, Islamabad).
  • Dr. Humaira Riaz Assistant Professor, Department of English City University of Sciences & Information Technology, Peshawar, Pakistan.


Social disability, depression, illness, oppression, pathological


The present study explores the selected poems by Plath – “Tulips”, “Edge”, and “The Jailor”, through Disability framework. It aims at introducing Plath and her work as contrary to pre-established notions of her as a madwoman suffering from psychic disability and her work under its direct influence. The study investigates how certain bodies of literature and their authors are stigmatized as pathological based on few tragic events. Social model of disability refuses to believe that the individuals themselves are disabled and mentally ill and elucidates the ways society and social factors disable them (Michael Oliver, 1990). The present study contributes to the idea that Plath and her work have been unjustly pathologized in the name of the so-called “depression” which otherwise could have been mere negative emotions or outcome of a number of tragic encounters. The present study highlights social and domestic factors of Plath’s life e.g. her marital life, barriers she faced in her career, being medicalized multiple times, that might have amplified in her the distress, anxiety, and distrustfulness towards life. These emotions elevated, although not abnormal and uncommon, however, are considered by most scholars as causes of her mental disability. The present study seeks to repudiate Plath’s image as a madwoman by studying the selected poems and focusing on traces of the events she left in these poems that hint at the tough time life gave her. The present work offers Plath and her work a fresh perspective and new insights, thus is significant in itself.




How to Cite

Mahnoor Sher, & Dr. Humaira Riaz. (2024). A Madwoman or Crippled by Society? A Study of Disability and Depression in Plath’s Poems. Pakistan Journal of Society, Education and Language (PJSEL), 10(2), 116–128. Retrieved from https://pjsel.jehanf.com/index.php/journal/article/view/1391