Plath’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ conveys a very negative feeling and throughout she uses imagery to emphasise the depressing atmosphere she believes she is in. In the first line of the poem, Plath uses a simile comparing the ‘horizons’ to ‘faggots’, immediately introducing the idea of death and decay. This suggests that she possibly welcomes death and she feels it ‘might warm [her]’. She sees the horizon as ’tilted’ ‘disparate’ and ‘unstable’, ultimately drawing attention to her own unstable way. She continually manipulates the description of the landscape to imply a longing for death.
She talks of the ‘roots of the heather’ inviting her to ‘whiten [her] bones among them’, suggesting that death will somehow purify her. However, she also appears to resist the temptation of death because she doesn’t want to pay ‘too close attention’ to the heather. Plath uses the sheep to highlight her feelings of loneliness and not belonging, indicating that they ‘know where they are’ but she doesn’t. The fact that the sheep with their ‘dirty wool-clouds’ fit in with the weather, which is ‘grey’, accentuates her isolation.
She refers to the sheep in a menacing tone as having ‘black slots’ in their pupils, which she feels are ‘[taking her] in’ and thus increasing her insecurity and confused state of mind. Her confusion becomes very apparent when she comically compares the sheep to grandmothers with ‘wig curls’ and ‘yellow teeth’, immediately after giving them a harsh description. In the poem, Plath, talks about water and how it ‘[flees] through [her] fingers’. This indicates that she feels she is no longer in control of her surroundings.
She feels isolated and is angered by the fact that even the houses are at one with their surroundings and ‘go from door to door’. She feels that she stands out from her surroundings as they make her feel that she doesn’t belong or fit in. she describes herself as ‘the one upright among all horizontals’, clearing indicating that she feels the out one out in her mind. She feels very exposed and pushed out, like a ‘thin silly message’ being ‘mailed into space’. She refers to desertion, dilapidation and decay when she refers to the house being ‘unhinged’ and only remembering a ‘few odd syllables’.
She also implies that she, like the grass, it ‘too delicate for a life in such company’ and in this she is effectively using the landscape to represent how she feels. A suggestion is made that her surroundings are to strong and powerful and that she is too weak in comparison. The landscape evokes feelings of inferiority. Plath appears uneasy in her surroundings and the personification of the grass ‘beating its head distractedly’ is used to emphasise her fear of madness. Plath’s surroundings and her perception of them generate a feeling of entrapment and claustrophobia.
She clearly feels suffocated and trapped, even though she is in the vast, open moors. She feels that the ‘sky leans on [her]’, putting her under pressure. Wordsworth’s poem is also inspired by allocation, however it conjures a very different mood. It is much more romantic and complimentary of the landscape. The poem is fairly contained and is a sonnet divided into an octet and a sextet. This enables Wordsworth to convey meaning and evoke atmosphere, but in a regular and confined form.
He uses nature in a comparative way to and immediately refers to the landscape of London as the fairest on earth, indicating that he has very strong feelings towards the city and is in awe of the landscape. This is in direct contrast to Plath, who shows strong feelings of hatred towards the environment she is in. Wordsworth compares London to the creation of the world, suggesting it is more beautiful as ‘never did the sun more beautifully steep in his first splendour, valley, rock or hill’.
He conveys a majestic and positive atmosphere within his language, which is not the case in Plath’s poem, and he also captures the spiritual aspect of London. He uses a simile to compare London to ‘a garment’, suggesting that beauty surrounds it like an item of clothing does a person. Wordsworth refers London as ‘bright and glittering’ and with ‘smokeless air’, indicating that he sees the city as beautiful and clean. This also suggests that it is light and spacious and not claustrophobic. In Plath’s poem, despite the vast space she still feels trapped which appears completely untrue for Wordsworth’s poem.
The vocabulary used is effective in portraying his calm state of mind, which clearly reflects his surroundings. He uses words with elongated vowels and soft constanants, such as ‘sweet’ and ‘deep’ to demonstrate the serenity. In his poem, Wordsworth mentions ‘towers’, ‘domes’ and ‘theatres’, which are all prestigious buildings that give off a sense of power and importance. In this way, the cultural and religious aspects to London are brought out. There is a sense of pride in Wordsworth’s language when he describes important aspects of London and it is very clear that he has a great admiration for the city.
It is very apparent that Wordsworth is at ease in his surroundings and the poem evokes a very peaceful, tranquil atmosphere. He uses his surroundings effectively to explore his relaxed feelings. He talks of the city ‘open unto fields’ conveying a spacious, unrestricted image that clearly reflects his state of mind. It is clear that both poets manipulate the landscape to create meaning and a certain atmosphere. The methods used are very different, as are the atmospheres conveyed by the surroundings but each are very convincing in their own way.