Topics for Further Study

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Read some of Plath’s poetry and compare the style and voice to that of Hughes’s poems in Birthday Letters. What are the main similarities and differences?

If the Hughes-Plath scandal had occurred today instead of in the early 1960s, how would it have been handled differently in the media and by British society? Would there be any difference in the British and American responses?

For years, Plath fans placed blame for her death directly on Hughes. What does current psychology research suggest about the cause of most suicides? Is it right or wrong to blame the admittedly unfaithful husband for his wife’s taking her own life?

What effect does the repetition of the words “innocence” and “daffodils” have on the first stanza of this poem? Instead of these words, what other words may have been repeated for a similar effect?

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