Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Hazlett, John

Second Advisor

Boyd Rioux, Anne

Third Advisor

White, Leslie


Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath are two well-known women writers of the twentieth century who committed suicide. The narratives created by their deaths have in some instances become as important as the canonical work they produced. In an effort to understand their motivations and struggles, critics and the public alike have sometimes reduced these women to victims of the patriarchy, mental illness, or even themselves.

Beginning with my own discovery of this issue in the legacies of Plath and Woolf combined with my personal dealings with suicide in my family, I recount how I lost these two women as exemplary figures because of their choice to commit suicide. I then take a look at what others have said about their deaths and how it has affected their legacies as writers. Finally, I take a look at Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Plath’s The Bell Jar for an alternate perspective on suicide. Through this journey, I recount how I have been able to regain my respect for these two talented women by considering multiple viewpoints and acknowledging the nuance inherent in any account.


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Available for download on Monday, May 13, 2019