Amid the conceit and the poetry are Plath's real relationships, with her husband, her mother, and her children. These relationships are all described richly and with tenderness, although some secondary characters, such as Dido, a neighbor, and Assia, Sylvia's rival for her husband, are more clichéd than real. However, they serve to underscore Sylvia's growing fear, rooted in her worsening depression, that her world was increasingly dangerous in every quarter as she approached the ultimate terror. Moses shows great empathy for Sylvia's mother, deeply narcissistic, unable to appreciate Sylvia except as an extension of herself, and bent on trying not to offend yet offending in the very act of self-sacrifice. In turn, Sylvia must distance herself from her engulfing mother if she is to live at all.The children, very young at the time of the story, nevertheless command attention and concern from the reader.Finally, Ted Hughes, the not terribly supportive husband, comes off as a heartless cad, either ignorant of or uncaring about his wife's illness.