Compare Plath and Hughes Treatment of Death in Their Poetry Essay Sample

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The title “Edge” suggests Plath at the edge of sanity as she wrote the poem just a few days before she committed suicide. The poem starts off with a full stop at the end of a short sentence suggesting the ending of the woman in the poem’s life although it maybe Plath referring to herself “The woman is perfected.”, one sentence is very gripping and almost sounds very cold, the idea of a quick death with no emotion. Plath uses enjamberment to emphasise on the word “death” in the poem, as the poem as an all possibly being about the struggle of death as Plath personally struggled with death all her life, adding a self-destruction element to the poem. She brings forth the fact that when a person dies they have nothing left, “her bare feet”, or it may be Plath literally saying the woman has no shoes on as the woman may be in a morgue where the body is in fact “bare”. As Plath attempted to commit suicide many times herself she could be talking about her own experience“….the illusion of a Greek necessity”, or she may just be referring to the Greek’s thought of suicide as an honourable way out of dishonour.

She could possibly be talking about her miscarriage when she mentions “…Each dead child coiled” it is very shocking for the reader as Plath talks about a dead child in such a frank and simplistic manner, sounds very blunt and matter of fact in a morbid way. She uses internal rhyme to give a soft slow beauty to death “Rose close”, as a rose is seen as being delicate and beautiful unlike death but Plath possibly compares death to a rose due to her maybe wanting to portray death as a beautiful experience. Plath maybe using the quote “….Garden stiffens” as a contradiction to the Garden of Eden as it is seen as the start of life and not death, the word “stiffens” may possibly be Plath linking the garden to a dead body, as a dead body when decaying goes through the stage of rigourmortus where the body slowly stiffens. The “night flower” maybe Plath suggesting blackness, or the actual closed up flower representing death. She uses the moon’s “hood of bone” maybe to refer to the grim reaper, as he’s a symbol of death and maybe as there is no comfort in his company. By using the moon, Plath writes “…she is used to this sort of thing”, she is possibly belittling suicide as it’s so common to the moon or it may also be Plath referring to her as she was no stranger to suicide.

A contradiction to Plath’s poem is Hughes poem February 17th, as Hughes has a very grim outlook on death whilst some people consider death very peaceful and more like a sense of relief, much like his wife Sylvia Plath. Hughes speaks of the day in his poem in a very straightforward manner as he concentrates oh just the birth and goes into a lot of detail, “hacked-off head”, “pipes sitting in the mud”, creating very graphic images in the readers mind. He tells of the day in a matter of fact way as death was very common to him due to his farming background, and so throughout the poem Hughes refers to what it was he had to do and how physically involved he was in the task on the day, “…I kneeled…, I roped…, I forced..”, and the reader soon realises how natural death was to him as he named the poem February 17th as if it was like any other day to him. Plath’s second poem “Death and Co.” portrays death in a much more negative way than her poem “Edge”. The title “Death and Co.” is possibly linking to death being a business and also personifying death, Plath is possibly trying to portray that death is not on its own.

Plath suggests there are “two” death figures. Emphasis as there is the repetition of two, “…of course there are two”, form suggests that it’s obvious and everyone should already know that there is two deaths, as “course” sounds very conversational. Plath is used to death, “…..perfectly natural now”, she is used to death as she had many close encounters with it due to her many suicide attempts. Plath brings on a negative feel to death, “The one who never looks up” as if death has done something wrong as it can’t look anyone in the eye, “…whose eyes are lidded”, Plath doesn’t look into death’s eyes yet as her time hasn’t come yet, and so death is hidden from her. Plath adds pain, “…scald scar”, as the ‘sc’ sounds are quite blunt and quick, it’s a very sharp way of describing death. When Plath mentions “water”, she may be referring to holy water, as death is associated with evil so when holy water comes in contact with death, it scalds as holy water is associated with good and it gets you into heaven, whilst death is seen to be more associated with hell. Plath presents death almost as a hunter, “…Condor”, creating the image of a predator as death preys on you, “I am red meat” she might want to die, as she’s possibly offering herself to the condor, seems as if she’s ready for death to come and get her. As she attempted suicide, “I am not his yet.”

She is possibly tempting death as the quote “… badly I photograph”, suggests death may have been stalking her and Plath is possibly taunting him back as he insults her, or it may also be that Plat is not ready for her death photograph yet. Plath shocks the reader by talking about children in coffins in such a matter of fact manner, “He tells me how sweet the babies look in their hospital icebox”, paradox, as the beautiful and ‘sweet’ children are linked to death, “…Ionian death gowns”, again Plath contradicts the beauty of the gowns with the horrifying image of death. Plath uses simple but very harsh descriptions to portray death amongst children, “…two little feet” very graphic in a simplistic way. Plath explains death is in two forms, a traditional view of death and the other one a more modern view of death. She portrays the death as very laid back, “He does not smile or smoke” as before cool people, celebrities and models smoked, so people followed them but death does not as he’s not trying to be popular.

The “other” death Plath describes with “…hair long and plausive” and also suggest that this death does smoke “…the other does that” giving this death a more positive feel, making him more modern and more appealing. An act of masturbation, seen as a powerful act as it’s done alone “Masturbating a glitter…” almost as if Plath is saying that death thinks he’s special as he’s masturbating a glitter, “…he wants to be loved” paradox, as you can’t love death. Plath suggests the idea of rigourmortus although it’s ironic as she’s still alive “I do not stir”, or it may be Plath suggesting that she’s dead on the inside, and that her emotions may have gone stiff. In contrast to Plath’s poem “Death and Co.”, Hughes poem “Examination at the Womb-Door” emphasises on death owning existence as even as soon as you are born you face death but death still being inferior to God, as the examiner being God the questions throughout the poem are very authoritive, suggesting that Hughes may think that God has authority over death.

The title could possibly be Hughes signifying the point of crossing into the physical world. It seems as if sees death as the starting point: Man has been living, just to get experience to pass an exam before God, also giving a very ominous feel to death, the ultimate fear of all mankind and a sacrilegious tone to the poem. It maybe that Hughes sees the soul as immortal as when the crow is asked “But who is stronger than death?” the crow replies “ Me, evidently” as the crow is immortal due to the rebirth cycle, so despite the body’s death, the soul remains, therefore the crow is in fact stronger than death. Hughes uses negative adjectives and pronouns throughout the poem possibly to remark the deficiency of the human body against death.

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