Camus tells us, in The Myth of Sisyphus, that the single most important philosophical dilemma that human beings must face is the issue of whether to choose to end it all. Shakespeare, too, had posed the question in Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" soliloquy. Plath, perhaps the product of an era more inclined toward the "not," died by her own act. In some ways, we, the readers, are left to judge not only Plath's action, but to evaluate the whole literary and cultural tradition that spawned her. First, there was Eliot's The Waste Land, and then there were several decades during which the best and brightest had only the most depressing things to say about life and the human condition. We were led from Prufrock to Norman Mailer's main character in An American Dream, a novel in which a man stabs his wife. Indeed, students of modern American literature often ask, "When can we read something more cheerful?" Coupled with this
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