Ted Hughes Conflicting Perspectives

As poet Oscar Wilde once remarked, 'the pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple. This quote perhaps best demonstrates the dichotomy of truth, which became evident to me through the study of 'Conflicting Perspectives' – that there may never be a singular, objective truth, but rather a series of perspectives, which more often than not come into conflict. The notion that there may never be a single, objective truth about a relationship or even is made clear in the study of the relationship between Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. In examining the relationship through their poetic works as well as an outside perspective in the form of Christine Jeffs' 2003 film 'Sylvia', the fact that objective, singular truth does not exist is elucidated.

Hughes' 'Birthday Letters' are the summation of a thirty-five year silence by Hughes on the subject of his wife Sylvia Plath who suicided on the 11th of February, 1963.   Hughes' 'Letters' acknowledge the transience of memory and therefore the changeable nature of perspective in the first poem of the volume, 'Fullbright Scholars.' Hughes employs rhetorical questioning ("Where was it, in the Strand?" and "Were you among them?" in order to highlight the haziness of his memory of the first sighting of his future wife as well as the inherently subjective nature of perspective and memory itself.

Ted Hughes released Sylvia Plath’s volume, ‘Ariel’ posthumously in 1965, 2 years after her suicide. The reader must bear in mind that, firstly, this volume has not the advantage of hindsight the 'Birthday Letters' enjoy, and secondly that the volume was released by Hughes and thus may have seen alterations or omissions by his hand. Nevertheless, the autobiographical significance of the volume itself cannot be discounted. Plath narrates the relationship she shared with Hughes as being 'torturous' in nature in her poem, Daddy, through the use of Nazi imagery and allusion to the act of torture itself –

I made a model of you
A man...