Birthday Letters

'The Table' as a Representation of the Collection as a Whole 12th Grade

‘The Table’ is a poem in the ‘Birthday Letters’ collection, which contains eight-eight poems detailing the life Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes had together before Plath’s untimely death. In particular, ‘The Table’ is a poem about the writing desk Ted Hughes made for his then wife, Sylvia Plath, which ended up unlocking all of her father’s darkness as she wrote poetry on it.

The main metaphor of the poem is that the writing table equals a door that unlocked the darkness inside Plath and the memories of her father. The lines: “I did not / Know I had made and fitted a door / Opening downwards into your Daddy’s grave” has Hughes openly acknowledging his mistake, his role in Plath’s downfall, though he wasn’t aware at the time. The adjective ‘fitted’ tells the reader that this door was carefully crafted, but Hughes was blissfully ignorant to what the devastating repercussions would be. “Opening downwards into your Daddy’s grave” refers to how he ‘ghost’ of Plath’s deceased father has been resurrected through Plath’s writing - he’s not literally resurrected, but the connection Plath establishes with her father through her poetry almost seems to lessen the boundary between her world and the spiritual realm where he father resides. The...

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