Short on time?

Get essay writing help

Poetic Collaboration between Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath: ‘Birthday Letters’, ‘Lady Lazarus’, 'Fulbright Scholars' and 'Red'

Words: 1005
Pages: 2
This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

Textual conversations between conflicting texts highlight both the parallels between the composer’s ideologies as well as their conflicting attitudes, underscoring the contrasting outlooks from both parties. Resonating and reaffirming this idea is the contradictory interplay between Sylvia Plath’s poetry collection of ‘Ariel’, authored during an era of gender digression, where women were stereotypically branded as housewives,; and Ted Hughes’ attempts to reconcile and expiate guilt as he confronts the public about his relationship with Sylvia Plath, in his poetry collection of ‘Birthday Letters’. Through the analysis of both collections with consideration to each other, in particular of their intense emotion and intertwined personal history, it becomes clear that a single story is never the only one. The twofold complementary study of both collections of poetry from Plath and Hughes, hence, edifies that single stories aren’t only told in one light.

Reflecting conflicting perspectives ensuing that a single story won’t ever be told as one is Plath’s A Birthday Present, illustrating her gradual descent into a suicidal nature, influenced by both her confinement by social restraints exemplified through “adhering to rules, to rules, to rules” and the Hughes’ unfaithfulness and betrayal of their once “perfect” relationship, together constructing Plath’s existential perspective of the world. The utilization of the motif of the veil creates a sense of Plath’s unyielding yearning of moving to the next world “going aside quietly.” The embodiment of death epitomised through the symbolic representation of the “birthday present” through “if it were death”, further alludes to Plath’s dejected and suicidal personality, and a recurrent relationship between life and death is enforced. Her longing for both Hughes and society to gift her “nobility” of being born again is made evident by the rhetorically asked question “can you not give it to me?”, subsequently creating a horrifyingly casual tone of her poetry to create a frightening existential vision perspective of “despair and disillusionment” (Rosenberg) she battled after Hughes’ department. The disparagement of Hughes by Plath evident in this poem was “possessed and reshaped” (Hughes, F) by society, wholly arraigning the death of Plath to Hughes, who exhibits his collision of perspective, which dissonances from Plath’s through his writing of Fulbright. Hence, through Plath’s descent into a despondent psyche, the idea that a single story will never be the only one told is set on display through her existential perspective of the world

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place Order

Thus in response, Hughes’ Fulbright Scholars, is a personal letter to Plath, where Hughes nostalgically reminiscences about their first meeting, where his adversarial perspective of a pleasant Plath differs from Plath’s pessimistic depiction of herself manifested through “A Birthday Present”, constructing conflicting perspectives between recollection and the frailty of truth… The poem opens with the rhetorical question “Where was it, in the strand?” addressing the fault in his memories. The imagery of “black eye-pits” and “scars” pronounced in Birthday Present is replaced with “blond” and “Veronica Lake bangs”, juxtaposing Plath’s truth against Hughes’. The publics accusation of Hughes’, accounting him responsible for the silencing of Plath after her death arbitrates the reliability of Hughes as Plath struggled for a “stable and meaningful life” (Rosenberg) after Hughes’ desertion. However, Hughes’ accumulation of rhetorical questions, through “were you among them?” presents the poets subjectivity thus conceding to his own imperfections in memory and opening up the story in a way through his candour. Thus, alongside the nostalgia, Hughes is also able to broach Plath’s “exaggerated grin” suggesting that she had an extrinsic facade to hide her deepest insecurities from “the cameras, the judges and the frighteners” and alluding to the enigmatic darkness he was ignorant to at the time, stressing Hughes’ compensation for his guilt and his besought innocence. The subjective frame of mind Hughes has created to explain the incomprehensible nature of Plath’s personality expresses his truth on the matter, though it contrasts with Plath’s own truth, hence revealing the complexity of the story, with the truth being conjectured.

Complementary to Lady Lazarus, is “Red” By Hughes, which recalls the final months of their relationship before Plath committed suicide, substantiating Hughes’ alternative perspective of Plath being more important in this world, rather than her rising “out of ash” declared in “Lady Lazarus, reiterating the conflicting perspectives between texts. The poem acts as a form of catharsis, as his final farewell, and his ultimate sense of loss where Plath’s application of colours to symbolise emotions in her poems, is co-opted by Hughes in order to express his perspective of her. The contrasting connotations of colours are echoed in this poetic call and response and where Plath’s red signifies life force, vitality and empowerment, such as the red phoenix in ‘Lady Lazarus’, Hughes’ red signifies blood and macabre, alluding to the conflicting ideologies and perceptions which ultimately label the truth as ambient. His assertion that “Blue was better for you” is supplemented with the poem’s melancholic tone, and articulates Hughes’ regret at Plath’s loss of the “best part of herself”, the part that was loving and nurtured her children, contrasted strongly with the blame that Hughes substantiated in The Minotaur, rendering a conflicting perspective to her initial suicidal portrayal. However, ending the poem with “in the pit of red, you hit from the bone clinic whiteness”, with the whiteness emblematic of peace, tranquillity and purity presents Plath’s instability, and her eventual demise into her own cynical desires. Imbedded within this statement is the crux of contention regarding Hughes and Plath’s collaboration; tensions between the enduring poetic voice and the ephemeral body from which is emanates and through this, conflicting perspectives are displayed, therefore constructing the perception that a single story is never written on its own.

Poetry serves as a dialogue between the living and the dead; nowhere is this more evident than in the poetic collaboration between Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Representations of truth change considerably with the slightest interpretation differences. Hence, the idea that a single story will never again be told as though it’s the only one is made evident through the collision of perspectives, as well as the resonances and dissonances between Plath’s poetry.

Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this Page

Poetic Collaboration between Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath: ‘Birthday Letters’, ‘Lady Lazarus’, ‘Fulbright Scholars’ and ‘Red’. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 30, 2023, from
“Poetic Collaboration between Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath: ‘Birthday Letters’, ‘Lady Lazarus’, ‘Fulbright Scholars’ and ‘Red’.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
Poetic Collaboration between Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath: ‘Birthday Letters’, ‘Lady Lazarus’, ‘Fulbright Scholars’ and ‘Red’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 Sept. 2023].
Poetic Collaboration between Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath: ‘Birthday Letters’, ‘Lady Lazarus’, ‘Fulbright Scholars’ and ‘Red’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Sept 30]. Available from:
Join 100k satisfied students
  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
hire writer

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.