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The story Hughes-Plath coupling is a story of tragic sequence of the happier Browning-Barrett union who were two classic poetic comings together and who have together inspired shelves of books. On her part Miss Middlebrook escorts us through the well-ploughed-up battleground of the couple marriage.
In the poem Birthday Letters, critics might relate it to an alarm that has finally gone off. It is not a doubt that Hughes makes a ‘heroic bang’, by crafting his poem from borrowed phrases from his early poems. This did not go unnoticed by Sylvia Plath who described as deep banging poems. Plath describes the first meeting as “and I was stamping and he was stamping on the floor, and then kissed me bang smash on the mouth.” The Birthday Letters had the kind of bang-smash, explosive effect, as Hughes expected and desired, the great roar and hiss of publicity was expected to subside soon subside but the effectives of the shockwaves that resulted from the poem have lived long and there are being felt and shall be felt for some time.
The poems in Birthday Letters are specifically addressed to Sylvia Plath; however we already know the facts that exist between about Plath’s life with Hughes, and the circumstances that surrounded her suicidal death in 1963. The facts in their relationship have often been in dispute between Hughes and other biographers and critics studying his work as Hughes wrote ‘I hope each of us owns the facts of her or his own life,’ in another troublesome exchange of letters about his handling of the Plath estate. This is a true picture of how much we know about our own lives; in actual fact most of us are totally unaware of the facts in our lives of that of Plath’s. In fact most of us as are just self-possessed, and have no clear and evident possession of facts about ourselves but know just well of their reported date of birth.
In his poem Hughes stated that mans main struggle is to truly poses his own experience, regain his genuine self in whatever way. Hughes predicts this behaviour to have begun when man developed enormous surplus of brain. The Birthday Letters demonstrates Hughes using his considerable brain-surplus as he attempted to possess, and re-possess, his own experience. The message in the book is clear and has a practical purpose, that of correcting distortions, setting the record straight and putting right the gossips, speculators, detractors and the critics in relation to the numerous consequences readers have on the of poetry work.
The use of the term ‘birthday’ of the book’s title alludes to those poems by Plath in which the word birth is used as a metaphor for artistic creation. Birthday acts as a reminder and as a signs of self-renewal. Poem for a Birthday is crucial to Hughes’s schematic interpretation of Plath’s work. In the Introduction of Plath’s, Hughes illustrates the ‘Poem for a Birthday’ as a metaphorical record of the ‘first real breakthrough.’ Plath herself noted of the poem as an ambitious seeds of a long poem made up of separate sections. Birthday Letters qualifies to be regarded as a long poem in separate sections, it is a recording that has no end and this qualifies it to be a never-ending ‘adventure’.
Sylvia Plath killed herself just after composing several poems that evoke and support suicide. To many of her leaders it appear that she raised the stakes of the literary venture who claim that the energy and violence of the late poems were acted out more than they should have been acted. Committing suicide by the author confirmed her threats making her work gained an extra status of truth in her literary work. The connection between art and life was a merely rhetorical phenomenon and it became more visible. In a critical look the poetic work insist that a threat must be "performed" in order for it to become true.
Poetry should always be evaluated by the degree they have been performed because it always depends on a precarious position an individual takes to defend it. In case of Sylvia Plath the demand for the "extra truth" of fact surrounding the marriage has resulted to serious heated debates over when to draw the boundary between fact and fiction. Several critics have attempted to maintain a distinction between Plath's poetry and her life and conclude that Plath is never a nice person, considering the entangle Plath's life, work, and biography.
In Sylvia Plath's work the elements of pathology are deeply rooted, first an early dramatic death which does not show in a literary sense a real life we expect to see. On a keen analysis studying Sylvia Plath's writing is simply to "take sides" and be "for" Plath or "against" her, this demonstrates the problematic nature of biographical "truth" in Plath studies. Being sympathetic to Plath, is understood to be antagonistic to Ted Hughes,
Plath's estranged her husband at the time of her death who was her literary heir and executor. For every reader, the presumption that to be "for" Plath is to be "against" Hughes oversimplifies Hughes's own and very painfully elaborates the version of Sylvia
Plath. In fact Ted Hughes's insisted on having the final authority of his own interpretations of Plath, this was an over board of his mandate on Plath's writings who sought to have publication for virtually everything she wrote without being managed over. Hughes's writings on Plath are a clear testimony on his part that he thought to be a sole author of her work which in actual sense should not be the case, he should have given her the freedom to achieve her poetic success all alone, and to me this should not be the case in a marriage.
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The fact that Ted Hughes's refuses to be textual subject, rather than being an author of Sylvia Plath writings raises confusion. He writes about Plath as if his readings are actually textual rather than biographical and indicates other readings as biographical rather than textual.
Ted Hughes's consistently emphasized his own role in Plath's story creating a contrasting effects, Hughes's writings encourage because he maintains a central position. Ted Hughes usually granted the "last word" in Plath studies signifies that Sylvia Plath actually relied on ted to perfect her work .As a married couple, Hughes certifies Path’s poetic work on the basis of having married. In discussing Plath's poetic "breakthrough," her real self is clearly showed in her writing and this self was that Hughes was married, after all, lived with and knew well of his mandate as married.
The stress on their relationship is wholly on some readers who give Hughes's writings authority and sympathy over Plath poetic work. Some consider him a "victim and a martyr" to other readers the poetic work emphasis a re-examination of that role in a marriage situation through examining what exactly his words claim, and what is the stake in those statements. Hughes's constantly insistence to be Plath’s wife who provided her with domestic and physical identity in his interpretation gave him the mandate to author her writing. To me this is not probably surprising, though its effects were far-reaching.
By establishing a reductively gendered reading of Plath's texts, Hughes's conflation of her written and lived selves also results in a failure to distinguish between his own written and lived selves, and ushers in the kind of attack on Hughes.
The poem shows a clear analysis of Hughes's writings on Plath and at the same time it tries to maintain a distinction between the lived live and the written self about the marriage institution, the big challenge is to find a space between a total collapse of the two and a pietistic claim to pure separation between them. Hughes's writings on Plath have taken a large part in public debate. They are have been treated as a "body" of writings with a distinct narrative which they contend with Plath's writings so as to have the right to author both Plath's and Hughes's written poetic work. Many analysis’s refuse to equate the life of Ted Hughes with his written words and at the same time equate Sylvia Plath words to hers words. Both Plath and Hughes shift from the biological body to the biographical by employing the detection and murder trope. If putting together the stories of other people's lives and discovering their significance is anything to go by then Ted Hughes's writings on Plath present an authorial voice in the discovery of the significance of the story of Plath's life and death and that Hughes presents Plath as a body for which her poems provide a voice. Critically to respond to Plath's death, Sylvia went through a detailed, point-by-point death of a public sacrifice and that her poems provided the vocal part that supported that part of the show.
Plath criticism has been written by people who read her work including her own husband who implicitly claim to be objective in their critical readings. Ted Hughes was one of the most obvious, and famous among these readers. Hughes not only read Plath poetic work but he had an investment in how she is read by others. She is regarded as an "extremist poet" in light of her suicide case. Shockingly, it is well worth noting that many of the men who write on Plath had sexual or quasi-sexual relationships with her but Hughes was her estranged husband.
Although Ted Hughes is best known poet today it is his infidelity that helped spur her wife to grief and suicide, however he is acknowledged to be the man who presided over her literary estate and shaped her fame. According to Diane Middlebrook, Sylvia Plath points out that her highly theoretical and highly didactic reading to Ted Hughes's life, who she refers as her "her husband" in his annotations of Plath's "Collected Poems" and their marriage became one of the most mutually literary marriages of the 20th century that critics considered productive. In "Her Husband," Ms. Middlebrook follows what she calls "a single line of inquiry through the maze of Hughes's life as he enters into the partnership, struggles and prospers in it, loses the partner but not the relationship, and turns the marriage into a resonant myth."
Surprisingly in Ms. Middlebrook's words marriage was an emotionally fraught and artistically productive relationship that provide a narrative of a husband who cannot help but fascinate, providing new bits of information and insight about the melodrama of the poets' relationship and the scholarly deconstruction of their art and their live in marriage to anyone who has follows the happenings around Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.
The term "her husband" to Middlebrook's book has a history and conveys several overlapping meanings; first and foremost it refers the couple's shared creative relationship during their six years' marriage, and also refers to one of what Middlebrook calls the "two personae." Hughes used the term "her husband" in 1981, as editor of The Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath.
The biggest problem with Ms. Middlebrook work is that she insists on subjecting Hughes's life to a relentlessly Freudian and a high speculative reading which should not be the case as most readers will create a false interpretation of the message the writer intended to pass on. Placing Hughes on the couch Ms. Middlebrook demonstrates an unfortunate tendency to overemphasize the autobiographical elements in his poems ignoring his imaginative transactions and to gloss his actions with a thick psychological determinism.
Ms. Middlebrook writes that the Hughes poem "Song" is a poem about the impact of Sylvia Plath on Ted Hughes, although it was written by another woman even before Hughes met Plath. In her poem she predicted that "Hughes's access to poetic inspiration was eventually going to require two specific forms of rebellion against domesticity", and would be enacted against the women in his life, selfishly and sometimes cruelly. The first shall be an "escape into solitude," followed by what she called "the hunter's freedom to roam."
Hughes was a devotee of the poetry evolved of Robert Graves's book "The White Goddess," which held the rituals of devotion to the Goddess by preserving humanity's connection to nature's cycles of birth and destruction. According to Ms. Middlebrook's theory Sylvia Plath marriage was an exact replica as "the doing of the White Goddess," which Hedges’ was powerless to resist.
Theorizing the day-to-day lives of the marriage between Plath and Hughes and their struggles to balance the demands of domesticity and art in their marriage, the results of such struggle are considerably more persuasive. Ms. Middlebrook's shows how their interests and work habits are meshed together in a complex manner and how each of their imaginations led a "secret life" detached from each other yet this should be the direct opposite whereby in a marriage there should be mutual communication where partners speak out their intentions and plans towards everything and anything in their marriage.
However, Ms. Middlebrook's authoritatively describes how Plath and Hughes shared and reinvented each other's images and ideas, and how their poetic work took the form of a kind of "call and response" that has continued to live long even after Plath's death and with Hughes's, "Birthday Letters," which is a collection of poems memorializing their marriage. Plath's submitting nature by letting everything around her to relentless scrutiny by Hudges awakened Hughes to the possibilities of reimagining his own childhood. We as well see how their contentious marriage forced her into the negative emotions that stirred her eloquence that was not called for.
The success in their marriage is found in the fact that during their six years together, they both benefited positively with Hughes achieving maturity as a writer and Plath began to find her way into the imaginative core of her art. By the time Hughes left her for Asia Wevill which provoked and echoed Plath's suicide, she had begun to throw off his influence in her poems which where most celebrated poems.
The "Birthday Letters,” which is a Hughes's collection was published shortly before his death in 1998, and acted as kind of reunion of the two poets and recreating their severed and enduring marriage relationship through words and myth.
Miss Middlebrook, 'throughout every page Hughes published since Plath's death', points the significantly recurrent theme of how marriages fail, and how men fail in marriage. In his latter-life translations Hughes treats a marriage under duress as recorded in the Sylvia's, spoken through Hughes “Don't fail me”, as published on October Sunday in 1998.
For Middlebrook an important theme in the history is the way the two partners worked together as poets and the traces of a creative relationship between the two that supports Ted Hughes's subconscious. Other critics have seen the marriage between the two poets differently. Some see darker interpretation of the marriage partnership. Criticizes argue Hughes for failing to acknowledge his prose for any connection between these practices and Plath's suicide. He declares that "Birthday Letters painfully records Hughes's continuing failure to make sense of those years.
In conclusion, there is a fateful view of Ted Hughes, as someone whose destiny was derailed by his relationship with Sylvia Plath who was, innocently writing nature poet, when the full force of a female frustration crossed his path, and trailed toxic clouds of feminist fury on him. It is easy to find Hughes insoluble and requires a feat not of retelling but of interpretation and some imagination. The most profound thing about Hodges’s is his short life that he spent with Sylvia Plath, and the poetry in the form of Birthday Letters which was utterly distinct from everything else. Before her death, Plath told a friend that Hughes's infidelity had altered her perception of him and it is the infidelity which caused her death. The marriage between the two poets is an indication of the domestic and intellectual-equality on which their relationship was founded.
Hughes believed that the world was naturally violent and that by extension human beings are a creatures of instinct who drawn to the occult and to pagan systems of thought in their daily activities. Hughes seems to have sought out and committed himself to a reality that was opposed to reason.
In Birthday Letters, Hughes is an unhappy with attempts to write poetry and he uses a striking image to convey his feeling that his sensibility had been overwhelmed. The Birthday Letters is clear testament of a man who knows that he's got some explaining to do about his life experiences.
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