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Elizabeth Gone

Anne Sexton

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About "Elizabeth Gone"
2002-06-09
Added by: Venus
This poem deals with a "second personality" that Sexton had created for herself during the early part of her career. Her psychiatrist at that time did not believe that "Elizabeth" was truly a seperate and distinct "personality" in Sexton's case, but a conscience creation of a character that was "permitted" by Sexton to be more expressive, explorative, and daring. With Dr. Orne's help, Sexton eventually succeeded in allowing her true self -- Anne Sexton -- combine with the Elizabeth character that she had created and was able to free herself from the mold in which her family, and society in general, had created for her.
About "Elizabeth Gone"
2002-06-09
Added by: Venus
This poem deals with a "second personality" that Sexton had created for herself during the early part of her career. Her psychiatrist at that time did not believe that "Elizabeth" was truly a seperate and distinct "personality" in Sexton's case, but a conscience creation of a character that was "permitted" by Sexton to be more expressive, explorative, and daring. With Dr. Orne's help, Sexton eventually succeeded in allowing her true self -- Anne Sexton -- combine with the Elizabeth character that she had created and was able to free herself from the mold in which her family, and society in general, had created for her.
2003-02-20
Added by: Sparklez10
This poem is not about a second personality of Annes but instead about her dead great aunt
Venus got it right
2003-05-11
Added by: heath
NO, Sparklez, Venus had it right. Sexton's great aunt was named Anna Ladd Dingley and was the subject of many of her poems including "Anna who was mad." Dingley was an important force in SExton's life because she was like a mother to her as a child, was also a writer (a reporter for the family newspaper) and because a young Sexton saw her descent into madness. However, this poem is about a second "personality" created by Sexton to communicate certain things to her therapist Dr. Martin Orne. As Elizabeth, Sexton talked to Orne about alleged sexual abuse "Elizabeth" said Sexton's father, Ralph Harvey, had conducted against a teenage Anne.
Wha???
2004-01-19
Added by: Ren
What are you people talking about? Secondary personality??? and how do you know so much about anne sexton's life anyways? I thought this poem was beautiful and it decribed the loss of a beloved, and then i read your comments about this secondary personality??? *is confused* Sorry but I don't see the connection between your analyzations and sexton's words...I really don't.
Proof and Resolution of the Debate
2004-03-02
Added by: DandelionSong
This is a quote from the description of Sexton's book:
The Voice of the Poet
by Anne Sexton

J. M. McClatchey’s nine-page summary of Sexton’s career, which serves as an introduction to this collection, will be helpful to those who are not familiar with her work. It is helpful to know that “Elizabeth Gone” and “Some Foreign Letters” are about her great-aunt who to whom Sexton was very close. Sexton invites an intimate relation with her reader, writing about being given the remains of Elizabeth in a cardboard box.
Well, not exactly
2004-04-02
Added by: heath
"Elizabeth" is the name of a "second personality" craeted by Sexton during her sessions with her therapist Dr. Martin Orne. This "personality" did not last long and, according to Orne, was an invention. Anne's aunt was actually named Anna Ladd Dingley (see Sexton poem "Anna Who was Mad." After reading all the comments I would like to note that this poem is a fusion of her feelings for her aunt and her decision to disregard this so-called "personality". The name Elizabeth comes from Anne's grandmother. As for Ren's comment about why we should look at Anne's life, the answer is simple: she was a Confessional Poet and used her own life for the basis of her work. This is not to say all of the poems are completely autobiographical, but rather inspired by her own experience. Dandelionsong seems to be on the right track but using one critic (in this case J.D. McClatchy) as absolute proof just isn't sound.
Anne Sexton's life
2004-11-13
Added by: Morney
How do people know so much about Anne Sexton's life? I don't understand why the commenter asked that question!

If you read Diane Middlebrook's biography and Linda Sexton's book about her relationship with her mother, you wouldn't find it hard to 'know so much' about her life. Unlike a lot of biographies, this one is extremely in-depth - the author had access to practically everything, including hours and hours of tapes between Anne and her therapist. Linda Sexton's book is very frank, sometimes uncomfortably so, but not sensationally written - it is amazingly honest, sensitive and does not shy away from talking about the bad times as well as the good.

Anne Sexton did have a 'personality' that she created in her head called Elizabeth. Although I don't think this was actually another 'personality' - I believe Dr Orne says that: Elizabeth was another personality that Anne consciously created, but was not actually a 'split personality' or 'MPD' type of situation. Maybe more like a child creating an imaginery friend. I have wondered if this poem refers to that. I don't know. Personally I don't think it matters much because the poem is so brilliant. I would be interested to know who she was referring to. Of course, people don't have to be referring to one 'person' in a poem - they can be an amalgamation of several people.
Elizabeth Gone
2005-11-27
Added by: Kiershen MacKenzie
Isn´t it a fundamental of poetry that its "meaning" shifts for the reader, on each reading? Whether Sexton was "Confessional" or not, autobiographical detail can not provide a universal meaning. Elizabeth may be a clumsy alter-ego, a psychologically and emotionally close relative, both, or neither. The reader can decide each time they reinterpret the poem for themselves. More productive than squabbling over historical references and lit crit.

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