Birthday Letters Characters

Birthday Letters Character List

Ted Hughes

Hughes is the narrator and protagonist of his poems. From his own perspective, he relates the events of his later years in life, specifically his marriage and separation. He is a selfish man who is unwilling to compromise what he believes he is owed in order to save his marriage, making his wife increasingly desperate. He feels that he is doing right by himself and that's all that can be asked of a person, but he dramatically changes his opinion in despair after Sylvia commits suicide.

Sylvia Plath

She was Hughes' wife for years. They had two kids together. Faced with a stubborn husband and no self-direction, she loses herself to her marriage. Sylvia's identity becomes hopeless intertwined with her status as a wife, which later becomes her sole reason for unbearable suffering. She is equally at fault for the failure of her marriage, which she comes to realize after he leaves her. Unable to deal with the horror and guilt of this realization, she kills herself, leaving him to raise their children alone.

Freida Hughes

Freida is the elder child of Hughes and Plath. Though still pre-adolescent, she is able to understand that her parents are not healthy nor happily married. After her mother commits suicide, she retreats into herself. She hates her father for his role in it all.

Nicholas Hughes

Nicholas is practically just a baby when his mom kills herself. His personality has not developed yet, and he probably didn't remember his mom much when he grew. His role in the poems, however, is vital because he is the child who most closely resembles his mom. To Hughes, Nicholas' innocent looks provide a constant reminder of his failure as a husband.

Otto Plath

Sylvia's father dies at a critical point in their marital troubles. Having long suspected her Freudian obsession with her father, Hughes attends the funeral in the hopes of supporting her through this difficult time. Otto and Hughes had a fairly healthy relationship with one another because he was a man for whom Hughes possessed a ton of respect. After the ceremony, Sylvia confesses to Hughes that she only loved him because he reminded her of her dad, whom she adored. Her constant disappointment in him stems from his inability to parent her.

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