How does Plath present the themes of
life and death in her poetry?
1 "Love set you going like a fat gold watch." - 'Morning Song', Plath (21)
1.1 "Yesterday he was nowhere to be found, in the skies or under the
skies. Suddenly he's here." - 'New Foal', Hughes (81)
1.2 Both Plath and Hughes represent new life in a
similar way; it is as if birth is the the start of a
process, and happens almost instantaneously.
2 "She has folded them back into her body as petals of a rose close" - 'Edge', Plath (71)
2.1 "Between hands that relaxed being too late and the trees closed forever" -
'That Moment', Hughes (39)
2.2 Here, nature is used to represent a life ending. The rose closes so that the world
will never again see its beauty. Both poets may also be trying to make a link
between life/death and the seasons.
3 "The woman is perfected. Her dead body wears the smile of accomplishment." 'Edge', Plath (71)
3.1 "And the body lay on the gravel of the abandoned world." 'That Moment', Hughes (39)
3.2 Both poets describe the almost peaceful stillness of a dead body, regardless of the
circumstance of death. Death is represented as a destination, or at least the end of a journey.
4 "He tells me how sweet the babies look in their hospital icebox." - 'Death & Co.', Plath (65)
4.1 "But who is stronger than death? Me, evidently. Pass, crow." - 'Examination at the Womb Door' - Hughes (37)
4.2 Where Plath is afraid of death coming to take away her children, Hughes describes the birth of a child as the
only thing that can overcome death. Both Plath and Hughes represent death in an animate form. Perhaps this
is to represent the physical presence of death.
5 Other poems to use: Hawk
Roosting - Hughes (17)
Heptonstall - Hughes (33)
Suicide off Egg Rock - Plath (10)