Love, Attachment, and Effacement

Romantic Dimensions in Sylvia Plath’s Children Poems

Keywords: Sylvia Plath, children poems, love, romantic love, maternal love, attachment, motherhood


This article examines seventeen children poems by Sylvia Plath written in the years 1960-63, in relation to the poetics of romantic love. Drawing on motherhood studies (Klein, 1975; O’Reilly, 2010; Rich, 1976; Winnicott, 1956, 1965, 1967), the maternal shift in psychoanalysis (see Bueskens, 2014: 3-6), and attachment theory (Bowlby, 1950, 1969, 1988), it reads love as a continuous human disposition, informed by one’s attachment history, and realized at different stages of one’s life (Hazan & Shaver, 1987). It specifically refers to Daniel Stern’s and Anthony Giddens’s largely overlapping concepts of maternal and romantic love to argue that Plath’s children poems are significantly infused with a poetics of romantic love. This poetics, however, becomes gradually compromised by a poetics of ambivalence, withdrawal, and self-effacement.

Author Biography

Justyna Wierzchowska, University of Warsaw

Assistant Professor

Institute of English Studies

University of Warsaw



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How to Cite
Wierzchowska, J. (2018). Love, Attachment, and Effacement. International Journal of English Studies, 18(2), 19-33.