Monday, September 2, 2019
A Red Red Spirit :: Sylvia Plath Suicide Poetry Poems Essays
A Red Red Spirit Life and death, beginnings and endings. The death of one person: the ending of two lives, or the beginning of both? Sylvia Plath, tumbling through madness toward suicide, created a collection of poems titled Ariel, and used the theme poem to express the revelations she had while planning her own suicide. Thirty years later, the man who was blamed for her madness and death - her husband, British poet Ted Hughes - finally responded to the accusations with a set of his own poems he called The Birthday Letters. His poem Red is a direct response to Ariel. The two poems seek to present opposing views of Plath's madness and the "revelations" she found within insanity. One sees her death as a beginning, an entrance into a new state of consciousness. The other looks at it as an ending, as the loss of something unique and priceless. Sylvia Plath seems to suggest that her entire life had been meaningless, flat blankness, but that her madness had opened her eyes to a new world. Ted Hughes appear s to look upon her death in a distinctly different way. He sees it as violent, as an enormous loss, as a fallacy that ruined everything Plath had. Plath states her feelings in the first stanza of Ariel: "Stasis in darkness. / Then the substanceless blue. / Pour of tor and distances." Her words suggest that she believes her entire life had been meaningless, flat blankness, but that the outpouring of emotion that went into Ariel allowed her to see things differently. She speaks of "substanceless blue." Blue - the color of the sky, representative of light and knowledge. The "pouring" of lava - which forms tor - suggests that the enormous number of poems she created in a very short period of time allowed her to gain knowledge she had never had access to before. Even the title of the poem seems to suggest an evolution within the author. The name Ariel has two different meanings. First, it is the name of a spirit in Shakespeare's The Tempest. This spirit, near the end of the play, is released from her servitude to Prospero, and becomes a being of pure energy, free and beautiful. There is a direct connection between this image, and the image of Plath gaining some new revelation near the end of her life, causing her to view the world in some new and wonderful way.