Conflicting Perspectives – J.Kim

In texts, composers convey their own perspective, through the choice of stylistic features and language, to their audience particularly in situations of conflict. Ted Hughes in his collection of poetry, Birthday Letters, conveys a personal perspective on his tempestuous relationship with Sylvia Plath. Through the evocative, emotional and vivid imagery the poems come to life. His masterful skills as an evocative poet allow the audience his personal insight into his journey with Plath thus challenging his audience to question and criticise dominant ideologies. Through the close study of Ted Hughes poetry The Minotaur and Red in Birthday Letters (1998), Sylvia Plath??™s Daddy (1962) and The Scream (1893) by Edvard Munch, it is evident that through the acts of representation each composer can shape meaning and influence the responses of their readers. The acts of representation demonstrate that depending on the subjectivity and bias of the composer conflicting perspectives can vary even within their own works.The reading audience should recognise that language is manipulative and that there are always silences, gaps and other conflicting perspectives. 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. 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.Another creative work that demonstrates how conflicting perspectives can be represented and how the composers??™ perspective can vary in their work is in the visual image of the famous painting, The Scream by Munch. Just as Hughes and Plath used their poetry to explore their own personal experiences Munch described the visionary experience that inspired him to create The Scream in his journal. Munch struggled with his visceral experience by trying to put it into words demonstrating the complexity of his own perspective about his creative work. Amidst the boiling crimson stands the lone figure, its gaping mouth wide open. The imagery of the ???Scream??™ resonates with the colours of his paints just as the striking and powerful imagery of the poetry of Hughes and Plath. The attention to detail including such aspect of colour, line and form draws the viewer towards the focal point of the figure??™s mouth. Munch painted four versions of The Scream, all in mixed media; pencil, paints and pastels which suggests that within his original work he was interpreting a range of perspectives and invited the responder to see The Scream in more than one way. This offers a range of conflicting perspectives within the work as well as outside the work hence, showing how conflicting perspectives are complex and intricate.Just as Munch??™s The Scream, Hughes possesses multiple perspectives of Plath. The complexity of a personality such as Plath??™s is evident in the conflicting perspectives given when representing her character in Red as he asserts that he was not responsible for her suicide. Hughes choice of language features represent his attitude perspective of Plath portrayed symbolically by the sequential progression of colours through the poem with the use of powerful imagery. Red signified his portrayal of her anger and destructive impulse; white symbolising her death-wish and blue, the sadness of her lost-soul: ???But the jewel you lost was blue??™. The poem starts with what seems to be an objective statement: ???Red was your colour??™. However, the following line ???If not red, then white??™, contradicts that declaration and again the contrastive conjunction ???But??™ demonstrates the complexity of Plath??™s character. The word ???wrapped??™ carries a positive connotation, a sense of protection, however this is over-powered by the imagery of blood in the next lines. The juxtaposition of life and death, in ???to make immortal??™ and ???warming the dead??™, together with the imagery of ???red-ochre??™ and ???Haematite??™ prepares the audience for the intense and contrasting features developed in the next stanza. Hughes??™ deliberate choice of language manipulate the reader to view himself as innocent which demonstrates how effectively composers can present their personal perspective from situations of conflict through forms, features and language.Through Ted Hughes??™ poems and other texts studied, it is thus clear that often in situations of conflict, it can be argued that the intricate and complex emotions experienced by the composers may deem their recollections highly personal and sometimes biased. The reading audience should recognise that language is manipulative and that there are always silences, gaps and the possibility for multiple interpretations.

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