This chapter examines the influences that shaped Plath as a fiction writer. There are five sections, each of which examines one of the major such influences. These are: (1) Virginia Woolf (2) The New Yorker. Previous critics have examined Salinger's influence on Plath. Here I add a discussion of the women writers for the New Yorker that influenced Plath most – Jean Stafford, Sylvia Townsend Warner and Mavis Gallant. The latter's Green Water, Green Sky is a particularly significant precursor of The Bell Jar. (3) Women's magazine fiction of the 1950s (4) Women's madness narratives, such as Mary Jane Ward's The Snake Pit. (5) Ted Hughes, who wrote numerous plot sketches for Plath to write up into stories. The mutual influence of Plath's and Hughes' stories, particularly in the genre of fable, is also discussed.
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