Love tri­an­gles

Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

In the late 1950s, a young woman scrib­bled some thoughts in her di­ary about a Hol­ly­wood soap opera that was play­ing out in the press.

“Liz Tay­lor is get­ting Ed­die Fisher away from Deb­bie Reynolds, who ap­pears cheru­bic, round­faced, wronged, in pin curls and house-robe...” she wrote. “How odd these events af­fect one so. Why? Analo­gies?”

The young woman was Sylvia Plath, newly mar­ried at that point to the love of her life, Ted Hughes. And in just a few years she would be dead. The “wronged” vic­tim in a love tri­an­gle of her own. Not so much cheru­bic and round-faced in her fi­nal months as de­pressed, haunted by psy­cho­log­i­cal de­mons, ma­ni­a­cally creative, and sui­ci­dal.

The demise of Plath’s mar­riage is by now more fa­mous than all of Liz Tay­lor’s di­vorces put to­gether. The world can’t leave it alone. The books, plays, movies and newly re­leased volumes of this and that just keep com­ing, feed­ing a public who never tire of the story. “These events,” as she ob­served so cor­rectly, “do af­fect one so.”

Of course there are mod­ern-day ex­am­ples that we feed on too. Brad, Jen and Ange any­one? At the cheaper end of the me­dia wedge, that horse will be flogged un­til at least two of the three are dead. Never mind that, since Brad and Jen sep­a­rated over a decade ago, Jen has re­mar­ried at least once and di­vorced; Ange has ei­ther birthed or adopted five chil­dren; Brad has re­vealed him­self to be ram­bling and fre­quently wasted; and Brad and Ange now barely speak with­out the pres­ence of lawyers. Yet STILL the tabloids hold out the hope that Brad and Jen will re­unite and that Ange will col­lapse and dis­solve into a pud­dle of envy, like the wicked queen in a fairy­tale.

“It’s of­fi­cial,” claimed New Idea ear­lier this year (and about once a fort­night since then). “Brad and Jen re­unite!”

“Jen’s decade of de­spair” read an­other head­line. “Will she ever be able to move on?” Yes, New Idea, she will. But you? Never.

The truth is that “wronged” peo­ple do re­cover and – while the agony of heart­break is time­less – the pos­si­bil­i­ties to move on get bet­ter all the time. Women are no longer de­pen­dent on a prince to be their saviour, so if the prince gets dis­tracted while out rid­ing his steed, what­evs. Per­haps mar­ry­ing an­other princess would be a safer bet?

Plath, how­ever, lived in an age of few op­tions and her pain is frozen in time. She will be, as she her­self said, for­ever “an anal­ogy” for our bleak­est feel­ings of jeal­ousy and re­jec­tion. We keep her mem­ory alive be­cause we need it.

The lat­est in the Plath/Hughes in­dus­try is a book of her last let­ters, writ­ten to her psy­chi­a­trist. There’s a re­view of that on page 12.

Ted Hughes: the Brad of the 1960s.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.