Module C - Hughes and Plath

Question: To what extent has textual form shaped your understanding of conflicting perspectives?

Truth is neither finite nor fixed as each responder has individual values allowing the textual form to be easily manipulated by the composer to create a conflict of perspectives. Ted Hughes’ representation of multiple dichotomies in his works Your Paris and Sam addressed to his Sylvia Plath in the form of confessional poetry conflicts with Plath’s representation of herself in the poem Whiteness I Remember. Michael Frank’s article; Plath and Hughes: Good Times, Bad Times and All the Rest of It published in the New York Times in 2005 represents the conflicting responses of ‘biographers, moviemakers, the conjectures and the cliché-spinners’ to the publicised relationship between Plath and Hughes. These texts show that truth is multi-dimensional and can be exploited by the composer to create a multitude of conflicting perspectives.

An individual’s interpretation and representation of truth is not impartial to personal bias from their values and background. Ted Hughes’ poem Your Paris is a part of his anthology ‘Birthday Letters’ that was written shortly after Plath’s death written in the form of epistolary poems addressed to Plath. It represents both Hughes’ and Plath’s account of their visit to Paris. An aspect of conflict seen in Hughes’ poem is represented as arising from the differing cultural upbringings as where Plath sees ‘Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Henry Miller, Gertrude Stein’, Hughes sees ‘SS mannequins’ and ‘walls patched and scabbed with posters’. His Paris is personified as it ‘was only not German’ and ‘was a post-war utility survivor’ with ‘bullet scars’. He makes reference to the harshness of the war through the use of simile in ‘so recently was the coffee still bitter / as acorns’. This comparison allows Hughes to present to his audience the conflict between the views of his younger self and his representation of Plath’s views. He represents Plath’s Paris...