A practical guide to Sylvia Plath’s works for middle and secondary school students One of the most dynamic and admired poets of the 20th century, Sylvia Plath wrote work about war, motherhood, jealousy, rage, grief, death, and mental illness that challenged preconceptions about what poetry should be about. The enduring power of Plath’s poetry and prose continues to attract and fascinate a multitude of readers. Best known for her poems “Daddy” and “Lady Lazarus” and the novel The Bell Jar, Plath starkly expressed a sense of alienation closely linked to both her personal experiences and the to the wider situation of women throughout mid-twentieth-century America. With an eye towards demythologizing Plath and focusing on her achievements, Breaking Down Plath aims to contextualize Plath’s work in the larger scheme of Cold War-era gender politics, debates about mental health, and anxiety about global conflict. Breaking Down Plath informs readers of essential facts about Sylvia Plath’s life and explores the works of the influential and controversial American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. Author Patricia Grisafi contextualizes and clarifies important underlying themes in Plath’s works while providing insight into how interest in Plath’s work developed, how the story of Plath’s life has been told, what we still need to discover about her, and why her life and art matter. Breaking Down Plath: Presents a critical biography of Plath’s life Offers a thematic tour through Plath’s, short fiction, journals, and letters Explores the recurrent themes in Plath’s poetry Features an overview of the reception of Plath’s work Discusses the role of Plath in contemporary popular culture This book is a primer for younger or new Plath readers and a welcome addition to the toolbox used by educators, parents, and anyone interested in or studying Plath’s life and work.