Grade: Senior
Subject: Literature

#2812. Bitter Fame: the life of American Poet Sylvia Plath

Literature, level: Senior
Posted Tue Feb 11 14:43:19 PST 2003 by Barbara Marcus & Brenda Sandhouse (
South Broward High School, Pembroke Pines, Fla, USA
Materials Required: Video: "The Bell Jar"; Teacher made handouts
Activity Time: 1- 2 class periods (55 minutes)
Concepts Taught: Poetry

Lesson Plan Title: Bitter Fame: the life of American Poet Sylvia Plath
Grade Level: 9-12
Category: Language Arts/Poetry
Unit Objective: The students will be able to identify key events that influenced the lives and works of famous American Poets. The students will be able to match famous poems in American Literature to their authors.
Lesson Objective: The students will be able to identify recurrent themes in the poetry of Sylvia Plath, and understand how these themes are relevant to Sylvia Plath's life and death.
Video: "The Bell Jar" (and "Bitter Fame" movie due out 12/03 or early 2004)
Teacher made handouts
1.The life of Sylvia
2.Crossword Puzzle of Key Words or Events
3.Word Search of Key Words or Events
Teacher Preparation: This lesson is being taught as part of a poetry project by Brenda Sandhouse, a student in 9th Honors English at South Broward High School.
* Create handout about Sylvia Plath
* Create puzzles for students to complete
* Make photocopies for class
* Secure video from main library and make sure VCR in classroom is working
* Prepare list of links for further information about Sylvia Plath
* Provide teacher with link to this lesson plan
* Handout Sylvia Plath packet consisting of biography and 5-7 poems
* Present oral report on Sylvia Plath and read a few poems
* Break class up into small groups, and assign each group one poem. Have students discuss style, theme, tone, word usage of poem
* Bring class back together and discuss recurrent themes found in poetry
* Discuss impact Sylvia Plath's manic-depressive disorder played on her writing
* Have students complete two puzzles
Real World Usage: This lesson is part of a poetry unit. Exposure to poetry may open up student interests into other areas of literature, into other poets, or into plays/theater.
As part of the poetry unit, students will learn that poetry is an effective way to express one's feeling, as well as a possible career.
Students may remember information learned, and use it in conversation, playing trivia games, or on SAT, ACT or in use it in college.
The author Sylvia Plath is a good opening into discussions of mental disorders, i.e. manic-depressive, and suicide.
Variations: This lesson and it's activities can be modified for use with different poets. Poets that could be included in a unit on poetry include:
Shel Silverstein, Dr. Suess, Robert Frost, Edmund Spenser, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickenson, T.S. Eliot, Edgar Allan Poe, Dylan Thomas, Carl Sandburg, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, e.e. cummings, Lewis Carroll
Additional Web Resources: The Best Sylvia Plath Site
Review of "the Bell Jar"
"Bitter Fame"

Barbara Marcus & Brenda Sandhouse (9th grader at South Broward High School)