Sylvia Plath and the Tragedy Paper

One of the unique elements of the English Tripos is the Tragedy paper - a compulsory component of the third-year curriculum in which students think about the historically and generically various forms of 'tragedy' and 'the tragic'. But what, ultimately, is 'tragedy'? What is it not? Sylvia Plath's work provides a particularly appropriate platform for considering these questions, as notions of the tragic permeate her work in complex ways. While at Cambridge, Plath studied for the Tragedy paper and in her journals and letters you can find some of her impressions and experiences. Her own writing, furthermore, engages quite specifically with tragic genres and traditions. In this part of the Cambridge Authors Site you'll find three resources.

1. The Tragic Aftermath in Sylvia Plath

This essay by undergraduate student Robyn Drury looks at the ways in which texts and questions arising from the Tragedy paper feature in Plath's poetry.

2. Plath's Tragedy Paper: Journals and Letters

Here you'll find short extracts from Plath's own accounts of her Cambridge years, and the experience of studying tragic literature.

3. The Tragedy Paper: Continuity and Change

Here you'll find discussions of the Tragedy paper by those who have taught it and studied it. You'll also find copies of exam papers here, including the one that Plath herself took.

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