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Shu-hua Chung Applied Foreign Languages, Tung-Fang Institute of Technology


one of the recurrent themes in the confessional poetry which was a prominent mode in the United States in the 1960s and early 70s


To explore the similarities and dissimilarities in Sylvia Plath and Anne Sextons poetry of the theme of the Electra complex to examine their creation of the father image along with their description of their ambivalent feelings towards their fathers.


To enrich the knowledge in literary criticism especially in psychoanalysis



responses to any and every kind of situation that life presents. It is all forms of activities, experiences and adjustment like perceiving, imagining, feeling, thinking, remembering, and acting (Williams, 1997).

One of literary criticism which is pioneered by Sigmund Freud


Freud believed that the human mind was composed of three elements: the id, the ego, and the superego. (Ridgway: 1990) Psychoanalytic theory includes: 1. Structural Theory 2. Libido Theory 3. Topographical Theory of mind 4. Theory of Narcissism (Barry:2002)


Libido theory assumes that biological needs (drives) fuel behaviour.

o o o

The aim of behaviour is to gratify the drive.

Drives are either sexual or aggressive in nature.

The discharge of libido is experienced as pleasure. (Ridgway: 1990)

The Electra complex: is a collection of the feelings a young girl has during their phallic stage. According to Freud, girls this age are supposed to have very strong feelings for their father and because of those feelings they develop a jealousy toward their mother. Sometimes the feelings are so strong that they want to kill their mother.

(Freuds Psychosexual Theory, 1994)



Descriptive analytical study



Source of Data

Sylvia Plaths poetry:

Anne Sextons poetry

Full Fathom Five, Electra on Azalea Path, The Beekeepers Daughter, The Colossus Wintering

The Moss of His Skin, All My Pretty Ones, And One for My Dame, The Papa and Mama Dance, Briar Rose


All phrases, words, sentences which shows the electra complex in each poetry

Data Collection Procedures

1. Reading the poetry thoroughly 2. Identifying the data 3. Inventorying (list and put on table)

Data Analysis Technique

analysis is begun with analysis the data using electra complex

Full Fathom Five Old man, you surface seldom. / Then you come in with the tides coming / When seas wash old, foam- / Capped: white hair, white beard, far-flung, / A dragnet, rising, falling, as waves / Crest and trough. Miles long Electra on Azalea Path The day your slack sail drank my sisters breath / The flat sea purpled like that evil cloth / My mother unrolled at your last homecoming The Colossus, A blue sky out of the Oresteia / Arches above us. O father, all by yourself / You are pithy and historical as the Roman Forum. / I open my lunch on a hill of black cypress. / Your fluted bones and acanthine hair are littered Briar Rose I have kisses for the back of your neck. / A penny for your thoughts, Princess. / I will hunt them like an emerald

The Beekeepers Daughter, My heart under your foot, sister of a stone Wintering Into which, on warm days, / They can only carry their dead. / The bees are all women, / Maids and the long royal lady. / They have got rid of the men, / The blunt, clumsy stumblers, the boors
And One For My Dame I sit at my desk / each night with no place to go, / opening the wrinkled maps of Milwaukee and Buffalo


In Full Fathom Five and in Electra on Alazea Plath as Poseidon, compares his father death to Agamemnons murder in connection with her fathers funeral And One for My Dame, exposing her privacy in public, Sexton portrays her father as a born salesman who sells wool to Fieldcrest, Woolrich and Faribo.

In Briar Rose she showed her passion to be loved by her father


Both of the poetry shows their passion to be loved by

their fathers

Their past trauma showed their Electra Complex