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Conflicting Perspectives: Ted Hughes’ Anthology of Birthday Letters Essay

CONFLICTING PERSPECTIVES
Conflicting perspectives arise due to subjective human experiences, resulting in alternative perceptions of situations, events and personalities. In Ted Hughes’ anthology of “Birthday Letters”, poetry is utilised as an emotive medium to express the ephemeral nature of perspectives by reflecting on his turbulent relationship with Sylvia Plath concurrently

Comment [MM1]: ? Are you sure you
want to say perspectives are ephemeral?
You do know that means temporary, or
short‐lived right?

revealing how composers can manipulate the preconceived ideas of responders to protect public identity. Ted Hughes’ utilises the poetic form and his reflection on his turbulent relationship with Sylvia Plath as a means to express the X nature of conflicting perspectives, ultimately revealing how composers can manipulate the preconceived ideas of responders to protect their public identity. (Hughes’ poem “Full BrightFulbright Scholars” discusses how memories are subjective, and may change with time, whilst “Red” is positioned to question the conflict regarding Plath’s personality.) Alternatively, both Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men and Sarah Curchwell’s essay Secret and Lies explore how perspectives are coloured by

Comment [MM2]: Or perhaps just  ‘revealing the role of personal agenda in  manipulating public perception’  Comment [MM3]: Too long, too wordy,  too many ideas in the one sentence. Also,  poetry is the textual form, not the medium  they refer to in the rubric – if you’re  referring to medium in another sense of  the word, find another way to express it  Comment [MM4]: Er, I wouldn’t really  introduce these in the introduction –  preferably leave until the body

interpretation and personal biases. These varying perspectives are necessary for audiences to better discern the truth from through an understanding of why conflicting perspectives occur.

The interplay between memory and hindsight rarely tessellate with the truth, as memories are inherently dependant on subjective human experience. This subjectivity is seen through the sense of uncertainty which permeates “Full BrightFulbright Scholars”, with the rhetorical question in “where was it, in the strand?” and repetition of the speculative tone in “maybe” and “or” revealing the inner conflict between real events and memory. The older nostalgic Hughes’ presents an irony in that he clearly appears to remember the negative aspects of Plath at that time, with the layering effect and negative connotation in her “exaggerated American grin for the cameras, the judges, the strangers” reinforcing her as superficialher superficiality/her public façade. Further, the allusion to an actress famed for her role as the femme fatale, her in “Veronica Lake bang” is an innuendo about her multiple masks disguising her “true” personality.

This reveals the value of hindsight, as the additional information of Plath allows a better understanding of a past situation. Similarly, in “The Shot,” Hughes argues through an extended metaphor that the “vague mist” of her superficiality prevented him from detecting her true intent. The He utilises the recurring visual imagery of the “gun” is to suggest that the truth had always existed, and yet Hughes commenting that the truth was always there, yet his emotions influenced his perceptions, as he metaphorically “did not even know [he] had been hit.” This These ideas reveals that memories are

Comment [MM5]: This is nice!
Comment [MM6]: Avoid too much  certainty ‘clearly’ – also you just said sense of uncertainty, and yet ‘he clearly  remembers’
Comment [MM7]: Need to explain Comment [MM8]: Hmm, perhaps, but  probably not the most effective explanation of this allusion/technique. Veronica Lake was known for her role as the femme fatale – a role where basically the woman seduces the man to his downfall. Yes, it kind of is an innuendo to the fact that she, too, has a personal agenda, but the point of that innuendo is to suggest that Plath is ultimately to blame, i.e. cast her in a negative light as opposed to himself, reversing preconceived ideas
that it was actually his fault – as obviously the femme fatale is seen as being at fault for leading the male character to his downfall.
Comment [MM9]: Information? The term seems too objective – how can you be sure this is information and not a purposeful mis‐portrayal? Also, would you regard hindsight as a value or a fallibility?
The question here is the question of CP, its nature and how they arise – value of hindsight is ultimately irrelevant unless you can link it back to CP (when I said fallibility, fallibility in the sense that it distorts the true memory – he did not, at the time, notice her exaggerated grin or her numerous flaws. Yet, in hindsight, he is. Is this really a value when we are looking in terms of the truth? (your topic sentence) subjectivethe subjectivity of nature, and that hindsight can be a more objective tool which can be used to reveal the truth.

Conflicting perspectives arise from the conflict of personal agenda, as composers attempt to manipulate responders’ attitudes. This is conveyed in Hughes’ poem, “Red”, where Conflicting perspectives often occur when individuals contend with each other in order to persuade responders on their “correct” views, as occurs in “Red”.

Hughes he personifies Plath’s rage and passion through the extended metaphor of “Red,”, with the The alliterative tone in “you revelled in red” suggesting suggests that Plath’s life was dominated by images of “blood.” This violent imagery and recurring motif of the “blood,” as seen in “the carpet of blood patterned with darkenings and congealments” reveals Plath’s victimisation of Hughes, through the violent imagery how Plath victimized Hughes. When considering this in context

Comment [MM14]: I like the first sentence, but I’m not so sure about your explanation of the composer’s purpose. How does the fact that she saw poetry as a solace from life reflect a false personality? through the use of personal pronouns which accentuate the contrast between the extended

Comment [MM15]: States? Stating is “I
have a book” – a direct statement. perceptions of Plath’s personality as conveyed through her poetry. states that responders seem to have a false perception of Plath’s personality through her poetry. This is similarly metaphor of “Your Paris” and “My Paris.” Through this, Hughes suggests that responders’ sympathetic interpretations of Plath’s ‘Paris’, as a misinterpretation of her ‘true’ private life, are skewed. By extension responders interpretations of Plath’s “Paris” are seen as incorrect, as it differs from her “true” private life. This reveals that composers can use emotive

Comment [MM16]: ??? Within? Do you mean the multiple conflicting perspectives of Plath’s character, or Plath’s own conflicting natures? Comment [MM17]: You need to try and be more subtle, incorrect is far too confident/harsh a term techniques to mislead audiences. When Hughes informs responders that Plath has more than one side, he is forcing responders to ask themselves if they know the “real” Plath.

Contrastingly, interpretations of texts are often found to be conflictingconflict due to responder’s presumptions regarding events. In the scholarly essay Secrets and Lies, Churchwell adopts a feminist viewpoint to critique Hughes’ perspective regarding Plath’s suicide when she states “I don’t believe in this kind of determinism. I don’t believe she was doomed to die. I don’t believe that for one minute.” The repetition of the “I don’t”

Through the use of intense emotive language and hyperbole she presents her view that “Hughes was a monster who forced his wife into a life of domestic drudgery”, with the bestial imagery of “monster” further emphasising her distaste of Hughes. Thus, when Churchwell presents her feminist view that Plath “became a martyr,” she is disagreeing with Hughes’ belief that her “trajectory perfect,” as in “The shot”. Thus, Churchwell utilises persuasive language and the essay structure as a seemingly intellectual and unbiased form to enhance a tone of authority and position responders to agree with Churchwellher. This is a nicely written paragraph, but much too short. Further, quite a bit of it is simply stating/discussing her view.

To move with certainty into the B6 range, you need to actually analyse it in relation to the nature of conflicting perspectives – what does whatever the composer say implicitly show? (Her manipulation, her personal agenda, her personal bias) – you need to do more than state her view, and actually position yourself as an objective third party, analysing her influences and so on. She is clearly strongly biased against Hughes, and you need to say this – what you basically say is that she is disgusted with Hughes, yes, but this reveals her personal bias. She does not attempt to view both sides of the situation. In fact, did she even know either of them personally? (Uncertain) – Either way, she is merely another biased and speculative third party – somewhat ironic.

Similarly to Churchwell, Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men discusses how stigmas and preconceived ideas can result in a misappropriation of the truth. Juror 4’s stigma is seen as he generalises and externalises his hate of the lower socioeconomic class, stating that “children of slum backgrounds are potential menaces” with a close-up of his forceful exterior revealing

Comment [MM19]: You jump too fast into analysis, you need to ease the marker in. What is the text even about? (Explain in relation to CP)

the strength of his belief. However, the deadpan silence which follows the shrill non-diegetic music of Juror 4’s statement is the utility of the film medium to break the fourth wall and forces audiences to consider the error of this, as films allow audiences to understand both perspectives. Hughes’ similarly identifies his own bias with the juxtaposition of Plath’s aestheticized city with the admission that “my perspectives were veiled” ironically presented

Comment [MM20]: This phrasing doesn’t make sense.
Comment [MM21]: How ??? This is too vague and general

to inform audiences of Hughes’ truths despite utilising a medium where emotive language is paramount. Thus, when a low angle shot accompanies Juror 11’s forceful tone when he uses juxtaposes both inclusive and exclusive language to say assert that “we’re right and he’s wrong,” the audience understands that it is impossible for two parties with opposing

Comment [MM24]: Definitely too long
– a link should be effective, perhaps 20‐30
words.

These conflicting perspectives between Hughes and Churchwell arise as a result of the difference in representations and mediations which consistently interfere with the reality of direct, private, inner access to “reality” in Hughes relationship to Plath, with Lumet further attributing this to personal biases and stigmas This representation of a subjective event to

Comment [MM25]: Okay but your essay should be on the general nature of conflicting perspectives, just like your belonging essay should be on the general nature of belonging “Acceptance nurtures a sense of identity” vs. “H&C highlight different ideas of acceptance within their texts (something text‐specific)reveal a more serious issue regarding Plath’s suicide and Juror 4’s bias are the composers

Formatted: Font: Bold informing responders to critically evaluate all information, and attempt to identity and

Comment [MM26]: Wouldn’t you say all of them have personal bias? disregard their own stigmas when considering potentially biased information.

Formatted: Font: Bold
Comment [MM27]: What is the more serious issue? Should you really be almost suggesting that anything is more serious than suicide?
Formatted: Font: Bold Comment [MM28]: Conclusion is far too long and ineffective. Also, somewhat  oddly unsophisticated at times. A load of odd grammatical errors. Yet the whole thing needs to be written again rather than rewriting what you have here.

howyoushouldbewritingistoshowyouoneofmyownpreparedparagraphs: Composers of a text present attitudes which are shaped by their underlying personal agendas. Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters, as a collection of poems which piece together his relationship with Sylvia Plath, works to challenge the media’s vilification of him. In “The Minotaur”, Hughes portrays Plath as the aggressor in their relationship by casting himself into the role of the victim. This is conveyed through the deliberate use of familial connotations whilst he describes Plath’s smashing of “his mother’s heirloom sideboard”, to evoke the responder’s sympathy for his plight. The sense of loss, which is furthered in the metaphor “mapped with the scars of my whole life”, illustrates the significantly damaging impact Plath has made on his past. In the violent imagery and mythical

Such manipulation of textual form conveys Hughes’ coloured perspective as he attempts to reverse previously biased attitudes towards Plath, highlighting the way in which personal agenda shapes a composer’s representation.


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