Revulsion, Restlessness, and Rage Through the Body in Pain: Radical Affects and Political Consciousness in the Ariel Poems
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Amy M. Robbins
Academic Program Adviser
The affective path to radicalism unfolds in Plath's Ariel in three stages. Revulsion identifies a shared source of conflict with a clear patriarchal enemy. Restlessness mimics the context and pace of rebellion, including the acute crises that give way to a societal awakening. Rage connotes incipient action and a commitment to upheaval as an act of restorative justice. The associated “ugly feelings” that facilitate such affects are a reflection of how, historically, progress has come at the cost of suffering. Plath’s language and its capacity for commanding this perverse sense of the sublime – particularly its ability to control the reader’s emotional and physical experience of vicarious suffering – culminates in radical cabal across three affected bodies at any given time. From Plath’s syntax to the speakers’ narratives to the readers’ resultant perspectives on time, pain, and desire, political consciousness becomes inseparable from the poetics of the body.
Beach, Erin P., "Revulsion, Restlessness, and Rage Through the Body in Pain: Radical Affects and Political Consciousness in the Ariel Poems" (2018). CUNY Academic Works.