Listen, at it’s core, works because it’s fitting for Clara’s character. With someone else, it would have felt contrived, but with Clara, the examination of fear felt genuine. Because not only did it build on her previously shown ability to relate to children, but also on how she herself deals with fear. She was not merely parroting the Doctor’s words - it’s clear that these are her words. The words of someone who faced down the Old God, who confronted the Ice Warrior, who explored a haunted house… who held her ground against the Half-face Man with tears in her eyes. Clara knows, intimately, that fear doesn’t make you weak, that you can be strong with it. Because she herself is.
Fear can be a superpower. And Clara has it.
Plath often sets off something primal for young women. She expresses powerful, taboo emotions—rage, sorrow, the desire for revenge—in a way that often encourages those young women to take their own inner lives seriously, and to spend quite a lot of time working out how to express them. Those emotions can be powerful and liberating.
This is not to say that there aren’t real criticisms to be made when it comes to Plath’s work, and I realize that women and feminists are often the ones to make them. But making fun of “the girl who thinks she’s Sylvia Plath” is making fun of the girl who takes her inner life seriously; seriously enough to write about it in some pretty stark terms, without feeling embarrassed.
When I was wandering through the library, grabbing anything with a female name on it, I was really looking for teachers. More important, I was looking for women to tell me that writing was possible. I needed evidence that someone like me, a young girl, could one day be a serious writer, and that female voices matter. Sylvia Plath’s poetry was pretty damn compelling evidence of all that.