Module C: Ted Hughes Essay

‘At the heart of representation are deliberate acts of selection and emphasis.’
Evaluate how effectively the texts you have studied demonstrate this in relation to conflicting perspectives.

As one’s understanding of reality is by nature subjective, every text is merely a representation the author’s perspective through acts of selection and emphasis. Regarding personal and confessional poetry and diaries, the form of the text heavily impacts upon this process. The fatalism of Sylvia Plath, the impact of her father and the role of Ted Hughes are evident within Hughes’ Birthday Letters (1998), specifically The Shot (Shot) and The Minotaur (Minotaur), and when read in comparison to Plath’s own Journals, conflicting perspectives on the similar subject matter emerge. As stated by their daughter, Frieda Hughes, Plath “has been dissected, analysed, reinterpreted, reinvented, fictionalised, and in some cases completely fabricated” and to assess the works of the most intimate parties, one can hope to gain a more objective truth.
Through the choice of Ted Hughes’ subject matter, Shot represents Plath as inevitably driving through her life, while literary techniques serve to emphasise the impact of her father and shape the perspective of Hughes. His selected bullet metaphor penetrates the entirety of the poem through imagery and word choice, creating a dehumanised Plath “undeflected. / … Trajectory perfect”. She “ricocheted / The length of your Alpha career / With the fury / Of a high velocity bullet”, positioning her career as the drive for her existence while the sentence’s slow rhythm strips away immediate emotion, emphasising Hughes’ retrospective, peripheral perspective. Through his selection of tone in the final, balanced stanzas of the poem, Hughes positions his audience to negatively receive Plath’s furious determination. The multiple caesura utilised in “Tossed you, cooling, one hand to the other” with the...