Conflicting Perspectives Ted Hughes Essay

Hughes demonstrates his perspective towards his destructive relationship with Plath through The Minotaur.

Violence is evident in the very opening when Plath ‘smashed’ Hughes’ ‘mother’s heirloom sideboard – Mapped with the scars of [his] whole life’. Here Hughes is expressing the damage deep inside him than the physical destruction by Plath; that he too has childhood ‘scars’. Hughes suggests that Plath’s over-reaction and violence reflects her unstable mind by the word ‘demented’ revealing his helplessness, frustration and incomprehension.However, Hughes also shows regret and guilt for encouraging her to explore her physical and emotional intensity further in her poems which he thinks it had probably led to her suicide; ‘The goblin snapped his fingers. So what had I given him? ’ Juxtaposition of ideas in the penultimate line ‘Grave of your risen father’ foreshadows Plath’s death.

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Hughes’ tone in the last two stanzas, which may be the explanation for her death, is sympathetic and fierce.It implies that as a consequence of her maniac tendencies and obsession, she had her ‘own corpse in’ the ‘Grave of [her] risen father’. Plath’s anger and despair is cumulatively articulated in her poem Daddy.

Her use of language techniques powerfully instructs and elicits sympathy in her readers when revealing her suffering and perspectives of her father. Daddy is a ‘confessional’ and a judgmental poem, addressed directly to her father with bitterness and sadness about her personal sufferings.This negativity with the apparent warmth of the title makes the title ironic; the title carries connotation of hatred rather than usual connotation of affection. Grotesque imagery of the creature’s ghastliness and size, a symbolic metaphor for her father, is shown in ‘Ghastly statue…Big as Frisco seal’ heading to ‘the freakish Atlantic’. The cumulative tricolon of ‘Ich, ich, ich’ symbolise her stuttering and insecure feelings as a result of not being able to talk to her father.

The rhythmic insistence of the double repetition of ‘brute’ gives the impression of rudeness.This shows Plath’s experiences of brutality and suffering as a result of her father’s death at her early childhood. She confesses her suicide attempts in order to ‘get back to’ her father and the tricolon on the word ‘back’ emphasises her obsession of wanting to meet her ‘daddy’.

Through this poem there is evidence of Plath addressing to Hughes. This shows that composer’s can have many different perspectives within their own work. Fulbright scholars’ refers to Hughes’ memory versus his hindsight and this acts a theme running through the course of the poem.Hughes is in a constant battle over his recollection of the day in question, In support of this; the poem opens with a rhetorical question “was it in the strand’ the use of this device immediately informs the audience that Hughes is unsure of his ability to accurately recall this day.

Alongside this is the consistent tone of uncertainty, and conjecture as well as the repetition of the words ‘maybe’, ‘or’ and ‘for some reason’. The use of allusion in this poem allows the audience to make a reference point in regards to Hughes interpretation of Paths appearance. Your veronica lake bang” the reference to Veronica Lake who was a 1940’s film star and model suggests that Hughes had found beauty within the photograph of Plath and this allowed him to make the connection. The audience however are also aware of what Plath’s ‘veronica lake bang’ aims to hide. Plath’s hair acts as a of hiding her mental instability. This is supported later on in the poem when Hughes continues to describe Plath’s appearance “your exaggerated American grin” Christine Jeffs’ film Sylvia, however, disputes this and rather sees Hughes as a womaniser and ultimately the cause for Sylvia’s suicide.

As in Hughes’ poem, ‘Red’, the colour red is a symbol of passion and virility, and the costume of the female characters in the film reflects this theme – Hughes’ love interests, Sylvia Plath, a young student, and Assia Weevil, respectively wear red dresses symbolising the shifting focus of Hughes’ affections, as interpreted by the film. It is the fear of infidelity, which appears to cause mental instability in the film, and the director, placing the ultimate blame for her death upon Hughes’ shoulders, plays down the role of her father as an underlying cause for her suicide.


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