Ted Hughes Birthday Letters
BIRTHDAY LETTERS Introduction: Conflicting perspectives are different points of view expressed and influenced by ones context and values. “Birthday Letters” by Ted Hughes is an anthology of poems challenging the accusation that he was responsible for his wife, Sylvia Plath’s death. The three poems The Minotaur, Your Paris, and Red are an insight into Hughes justification of the death of Plath using a very subjective and emotive poetic form.
The poems possess many deliberate techniques such as extended metaphors, connotations, diction and juxtaposition to encourage the audience to accept his argument that he was not the one to blame for this world renown tragedy. The poem Daddy by Sylvia Plath also displays conflicting perspectives of the relationship between Plath. THE MINOTAUR Techniques: The destructive power of her personality is vividly conveyed through verbs, such as ‘smashed’, with its sense of overstated activity. Sarcastic dialogue – Sarcastic dialogue is used as Hughes words within the context of the incident. Get that shoulder in your stanzas and we’ll be away” is focusing on the anger within her personality and suggests she fails to incorporate these tendencies in her poetry. Hughes positions himself as calm and encouraging her in her art. Quotes: She was “Demented by my being”, and “Twenty minutes late for baby minding. ” Here we see how truth depends on perspective, on who is telling it, based on how they saw it, and now how they tell it. That she was ‘demented’ may have been simply to his trivial error or that carelessness on Hughes’s part may have been the last straw in a sequence of events which had driven her mad.
Towards the end of the poem the repetition of ‘your, “Your marriage, your children, your mother” creates an accusatory tone. Hughes has purposefully written himself out of the equation. Conclusion: This poem highlights the conflicting perspective of Hughes and his relationship with Plath, and gives reason that because of Plath’s mental instability he could not possible be responsible for her death. RED Techniques: Redness is present physically, but for Hughes its essential truth is metaphorical. Quotes: In this poem, we can see how variable one’s perspective can be in poetry and in this collection in particular.
Hughes begins decisively “Red was your colour”. This appears to be a factual statement, a simple declaration, but immediately he undermines it “If not red, then white. ” When he tries to understand why red might have been so important to Plath, he puts his suggestion in the hesitation of a question, “Was it blood? ” His interpretation is complicated by uncertainty. Our perspective of others can be obscured and complicated by our uncertainties. A third colour concludes the poem, Blue. This was not Plath’s colour. Hughes is arguing, but it was “better for you”.
It has healing powers also. Whiteness and the extremity of redness represent the polarities if her life, her quest for purity and the pain and passion of her existence. Hughes concludes that Plath’s inability to be nurtured by the kindly spirit of blue was what destroyed her. He feels that when she gave up blue, she lost normality, symbolising blue as a precious jewel which she lost. To support the originally firm statement that red was Plath’s colour, Hughes presents evidence which clearly supports its truthfulness, “Our room was red”.
Curtains and window-seat all matched, however there was an exception, “the bookshelves escaped into whiteness”. This suggests that they were exceptional. The idea of red as Plath’s colour is reinforced. Conclusion: The summary of Plath through symbolism of these colours reveals everything about Plath and their relationship, reinforcing many arguments Hughes presents throughout his anthology. YOUR PARIS Quotes: The poem “Your Paris” indicates that from the beginning of their marriage, their perspectives on life were different, antagonistic.
It also shows how Hughes was uncomprehending in the face of his wife’s personality and how he tried to come to terms with it. His version of the city was so different that “I kept my Paris from you”. It was the wartime city, occupied by the Germans, As Hughes registers their different responses to the city, and he finds a way of telling the truth about their different selves and the tension between them. The irony of this is that the situation is taking place on their honeymoon, although this is a biographical fact to which Hughes does not explicitly refer.
That omission is suggestive of the problems of the relationship. Plath’s spoken responses to Paris, which enabled her to cope with the intensity of its impact upon her, produced a negative reaction in Hughes, “It was diesel aflame”, and “To the dog in me”. Conclusion: Your Paris is written from Hughes’s Perspective about Plath’s perspective, thus it is unclear whether Plath truly valued the significance of Paris. Hughes initial conflicting perspectives of Plath are represented in the poem. YOUR DADDY
Quotes: In Plath’s poem ‘Daddy’, Hughes begins by pointing out that mere human beings were insufficient for Plath’s worship, she needed “a god”. The psychological explanation for this desire is the death of her “Daddy”. Hughes writes, “His death touched the trigger”. This sets in motion Plath’s search for a god to replace her vanished father. This is a plausible psychological explanation, but it is not necessarily true, this is his perspective of that matter. Plath’s life after her father’s death was like “The fury, of a high velocity bullet”.
Those she chose as gods were “too mortal” to withstand the impact. Hughes undoubtedly includes himself in that category. The scar which Plath had on her cheek is seen, not as an imperfection, but like a groove in the barrel of a shotgun “To keep you true”, that is to fire the bullet correctly. Hughes is a target, but the real target was behind him, “Your Daddy”. Hughes laments the fact that he was not able to manage the deadly bullet of her personality. He could only handle the remains of her life, “a wisp of hair, your ring, your watch, your nightgown.
The image of Plath’s father as “the god with the smoking gun” suggests a duel between father and daughter. She was aiming to get revenge on her father for betraying her by dying. He had the final victory however, in her suicide which took her back to him, “To bury yourself at last in the heart of god”. Conclusion: The poem Daddy allows us to discover the true perspective of Plath and Hughes’ relationship, which contrasts against Hughes own perspective. Their collective representations of Plath’s father do not conflict their perspectives.
Conclusion: Overall, it is evident that Ted Hughes represented Sylvia Plath as a young and talented woman in his descriptions in the letters to Aurelia Plath. Hughes perspective of Plath changes and he details his former wife’s emotional struggle in his ‘Birthday Letters’ anthology. Thus, it is obvious that perspectives change overtime, and thorough analyse and viewing of different texts created by various composers relating to the relationship of Hughes and Plath, we discover that each text represents a different perspective regarding their relationship.