In a nutshell, one could evoke the Paleolithic hunter versus the nurturing mother model. Previc’s theory is in many ways convincing, but, like McGilchrist’s The Master and his Emissary, it does not take into account atypical right-hemispheric dominance, with switched hemispheric functions or temporary reversals of normal linguistic dominance during manic states, nor brain volume changes due to head injury or early trauma on the left that can release the right from the left’s inhibitory signals or vice versa.
Nonetheless, Ted Hughes possessed many traits of Previc’s highly dopaminergic male. Hughes was a hunter, with disheveled, unwashed ways. He was both highly intelligent and hypersexual, more interested in sexual conquest than in maintaining close bonds. He was thrilled at the birth of his daughter, Frieda, but less enthralled when his son, Nicholas, arrived. His lover, Assia Wevill, had a child, Shura, whom he never recognized as his daughter. He will abandon Assia, as he did Sylvia Plath. He will maintain a relationship with Brenda Hedden, marry Carol Orchard, then spend their honeymoon period with Hedden, dangling her along until she breaks it off. Brenda’s remarks exemplify the highly dopaminergic male’s need for conquest, not domesticity, which would also explain Hughes’s intense identification with Robert Graves’s theory of the White Goddess who abhors domesticity:
Plath was highly intelligent, ambitious and sexually motivated as well, the dopaminergic side of her. But, living in a time when women were considered “sluts” if they acquiesced to male sexual overtures, she was very conflicted. She labeled her first experience a rape and had to go to the hospital for hemorrhaging, yet still went out with the man again. There were more men, sometimes involving violent sex, to whom she consented, whether as punishment or titillation. After marriage, she often commented on her “good” love-making sessions with her husband, considered crucial to their marriage, even though there was often violence involved there too.
Hughes will come to blame a triple threat: Plath’s mother, her therapist, and an unnamed friend for poisoning his wife’s mind against him. In a late poem, he questions his wife: “What was poured in your ears / While you argued with death? / Your mother wrote: ‘Hit him in the purse.’ / . . . And from your analyst: / ‘Keep him out of your bed’ / . . . / What did they plug into your ears / That had killed you by daylight on Monday?” (Howls & Whispers). But a final blow to her was the inscription she found in a new copy of a red Oxford Shakespeare during their last meeting in his flat. Assia had replaced what Sylvia had furiously rent when she first discovered their adultery. This lover would be remorseless when learning of the wife's demise.
Hughes himself claimed the relationship with his wife had been "almost completely repaired" before the fatal day (in Koren and Negev). One will never know what occurred between Sylvia and Ted during their last brief encounter on the evening of February 8 at her own flat in Yeats's old house; but, on returning to her friend Jillian Becker's, who was watching the children, she appeared distinctly different from her formerly sobbing self, now "direct" and "purposeful" (in Alexander, p. 328).