Although some may think that Plath and Sexton are rivals in the poetic world, these two women thickened the line between men and women poets, maybe just because of a few martinis. Plath and Sexton met in 1958 at a seminar, where they discovered that they were very similar, in that they both thought that the idea of death was something that makes one more free, and is the most astute and invigorating point of life. This fondness for death, discussed over a few martinis, brought the two closer, and their conversation, which now had the power of two great female minds, instead of these two individual women’s ideas floating around by themselves, became something that the male poets of their time had not experienced. Each seminar that these two women discussed, while drinking their routine three martinis deepened the connection between the two of them, while furthering the distance between men and women in the poetic world.
Along with their fondness of death, these two women both married poets and had two children. They both separated from their husbands, and because of this, their poetry was effected. The poetry they created during these times in their life reflected a very realistic and modern way of thinking. The women in their lifetime found it unsettling that both Plath and Sexton would stray from the world that they lived in with their husbands. But, both women’s poetry highlights the very modern and honest idea that a woman’s life includes gender roles and household duties, but that there is always a way to get out of that kind of life. This escape was death. Whether it was writing about death, or experiencing it, both women craved this escape more than anything, and this is clear in their work, especially after the destruction of their marriages.
Following Sylvia’s death, Anne wrote this poem, revealing many of the things that the two had in common, while highlighting their discussions of death. In this piece, Anne writes about death, “the one we talked of so often each time/we downed three extra dry martinis in Boston”.
Both women attempted and committed suicide; Sylvia Plath by gas poisoning from her stove, and Anne Sexton by carbon monoxide poisoning in her car. Both of these women saw the truths in modern society. They knew the truth about marriage, and how a woman changes from being outside one to being in one. They knew that women would be considered a household figure for a long time, and that men would always think differently and write differently than women. The things that they knew about in their world were the harsh truths. These facts led these two ladies to a point where they were simply fascinated with death. They saw it as an escape, and they desired to get away from their intelligence, and creativeness. Although their careers can be attributed to these aspects of their minds, these women were simply looking to reach a point of total knowledge and escape.
And it all started with a few martinis…