Ted Hughes - Birthday Letters Anthology

People construct their own perspectives on events, personalities, idea or situations, shaped by their own experiences and memories. Ted Hughes’ anthology Birthday Letters is his perspective about the events between himself and Sylvia Plath and their life together. He published it in attempt to alter ones perspectives on Hughes’ influence in Plath’s suicide and providing emotional insight into their lives, effectively giving him the final say in the events of their relationship. “Fulbright Scholars”, “Sam” and “Your Paris”, three poems within Birthday Letters, represent conflicting perspectives of events in their lives, as well as their contrasting personalities. Through techniques such as first person, metaphors, imagery and rhetorical questions, my perspective of these events has been altered to one of believing Hughes is not the sole contributor to Sylvia Plath’s death, however he was not the patient, long-suffering husband of an overbearing wife either; his actions may have just been the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’.
Hughes and Plath’s relationship has been scrutinised by biographers, journalists and literary critics since it began in February 1956. Both successful and acclaimed poets, their lives were shrouded in controversy, and even death, they are objects of curiosity and intrigue. Their relationship was tumultuous at best, and his constant extra-marital affairs did little to ease the tension. Even the birth of their two children, Frieda and Nicholas, could not keep this couple together. They separated in 1962 after Plath discovered Hughes’ ongoing affair with a friend. Less than six months later Plath gassed herself in the kitchen, while her two children slept soundly upstairs, and since, Hughes has been labelled by the public as the misogynist husband who pushed his wife to suicide.
Birthday Letters is said to be his response to her constantly playing the ‘victim’ within their relationship, and the title of ‘letters’ instead of...