Poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Huges both wrote poems by the name ‘wuthering heights ‘. Based on the book by Emily Bronte, Both poems are highly descriptive and try to capture the essence of the landscape about which they were written, both with very different effects. Ted Hughes Describes a vibrant landscape. He paints a picture of a wild but beautiful place leading to a very positive tone in his poem. Huges poem has an almost aspirational quality. He talks of Emily Bronte as if he, or his character, wishes to be just like her. This gives the poem a far more positive tone than that of Sylvia Plath. Plath creates a deeply depressing, almost disturbing tone through her use of description. This results in far more negative feelings about the poem. This negativity seems to reflect both the wildness of the landscape and also her feelings.
Huges uses his poem to tell a story that puts the reader in the position of the character in the poem. This leads to the reader feeling like a part of the poem, therefore creating a personal interest in the surroundings, which are described to them. The poem seems to be about more than just the landscape. It is about beginning to understand the book by Emily Bronte and in doing so understand the moor itself. Plath on the other hand uses her poem as a metaphor for her feelings. It is well documented that Sylvia Plath committed suicide shortly after the breakdown of her marriage to Ted Hughes. This poem reflects a sense of growing depression. It paints an almost favourable image of death, “…They will invite me To whiten my bones among them…” Plath seems to be in a state of madness. She also seems to be alone in the poem adding to the sense of total isolation and depression
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There is a strong use of imagery in both of the poems. However, in Hughes’s poem, the imagery is more based on the things around him and of the landscape whereas Plath uses imagery to convey her innermost feelings to the reader. Huges gives a sense of the bleakness of the moors using his description of the area around him. “…Stonework- black, sky -blue and the moor wind flickering…” The image of black stonework and flickering wind gives the reader a sense of the bleak moors and the emptiness of the landscape, yet also conveys its wild beauty. Hughes also uses the image of a “crumble of wall” to show how time has passed and the memory of Emily Bronte and her work is being forgotten. Plath uses the image of “the grass is beating its head” as a metaphor for her sense of madness. It seems to be a reference to mentally disturbed people, perhaps reflecting Plath’s state of mind.
The image of water “fleeing through my fingers” gives the reader the sense that Plath feels as if she is letting go of life or of sanity. Even the imagery of the sheep is rather disturbing. Plath personifies the sheep giving them a hard almost frightening appearance. “All wig curls and yellow teeth”. Both poets use Emily Bronte in their poems. Hughes has a fascination with her and describes her as “a dying prisoner.” Plath too uses Emily in her poem. She relates herself to Emily and the image of her being a prisoner. “Lintel and sill have unhinged themselves” is probably a reference to the windows that Emily watched the moors through. This image gives the reader the sense that Sylvia Plath also feels trapped as Emily Bronte did.
Both poets use repetition to give an impression of the emptiness of the surroundings. Plath’s description, as always, creates a negative view in the reader’s mind. “…It rehearses them moaningly: Black stone, Black stone”. This use of language gives the impression of ghosts, maybe referring to the ghost of Emily Bronte. In Huges’s poem, his use of repetition creates a sense of a windy moor. The repletion almost sounding like the wind. The repletion of the word failed gives the reader the impression that the wind has come to chastise the character in the poem for thinking that they are as good a writer as Emily. Huges also uses rhetorical questions to bring the reader into the poem making it more personal. “Weren’t you twice as ambitious as Emily?”
Ted Huges’s poem is far longer in length than Plath’s. It consists of several long stanzas similar to a story. The poem definitely gives the impression of a story rather than a piece of poetry and its structure suggests this. Huges uses long sentences in order to keep the impression of storytelling and also to give the poem a softer rhythm. This again serves to give the reader the feeling that they are being told a story. Plath’s poem uses five short stanzas. The lines are short giving the poem a quicker pace and give the poem a mad, almost disparate feel. Short sentences in the poem make certain phrases stand out. Emphasizing them and helping to add to the feel of depression. “The darkness terrifies it”.
Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath both wrote poems that seem to bring to life their thoughts and feelings on the moors. Their use of description is able to create an image in the reader’s mind of the surroundings. Plath is able to share her deepest feelings through the poem with her use of imagery as a metaphor for her feelings. Hughes creates a sense of a wild place yet a beautiful one. Although the poems are similar in their use of description to create an effect on the reader, they also differ in the meaning of the poem and the tone of each is very different. Hughes is in awe of Emily Bronte whereas Plath seems to relate to her as she relates to the landscape within the poem, the landscape becoming a metaphor for herself.