Telling the Truth (Ted Hughes, Kurt Vonnegut)

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Telling the Truth

Birthday Letters – Ted Hughes
Weapons of Mass Delusion – Phillip Adams
Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut

How do your texts represent the idea of truth?

Ted Hughes' collection of intimate and deeply personal poetry, along with Kurt Vonnegut's novel Breakfast of Champions and Phillip Adams' controversial article Weapons of Mass Delusion all represent versions of the truth. In many ways, they represent truth as a kind of impossibility, as it is constantly in a fluid state of instability and ambiguity. There can never be a ‘true' representation of reality as perspective, time, memory and language tarnish truth. This notion resounds throughout these three texts which assert that the possibility of representation is limitless.

Birthday Letters is Hughes attempt at "opening a direct and inner contact" with his late and emotionally disturbed wife Sylvia Plath. Victoria Laurie describes the poems as a "a collection of elegiac tender and harrowing poetry addressed to his dead wife.". through Birthday Letters, Hughes asserts that the facts and memories of his life and relationship belong to him and not to the world or the media. He says "I hope that everyone owns the facts of his or her own life." In this sense, as well as being a personal address to Plath, Birthday Letters is also Hughes' attempt to own his truth.

His poem ‘Sam' is a direct adaptation of Plath's poem ‘Whiteness I Remember' which tells the account of Sylvia's near death experience ridding a horse. Hughes has appropriated ideas from this poem to create a metaphor for their tumultuous and destructive relationship. A sense of alienation is created by the alliteration of the ‘h' sound, "horribly hard" . The abrupt and rhythmic assonance of "the cataract of macadam" creates a feeling of lethal speed and a lack of control that Hughes sees as embodying their relationship. The poet has employed stylistic contrasts "adored/dead" and "hugged/strangled" to evoke the...
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