Sylvia Plath’s Daddy

1 January 2017

When Sylvia Plath’s father, Otto Plath, passed away in 1940, she was deeply devastated. Plath was only eight years old when her father died, and she was absconded with a large poignant hollowness. It was then that she began writing poetry as an outlet for her feelings. Many of Plath’s poems have been persuaded by experiences from her own life; “Daddy” is no concession. Throughout Sylvia Plath’s poem “Daddy”, she uses prevailing images to declare her attitudes toward her late father and also toward her husband.

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Plath uses various images to describe how she viewed her father. The images she uses change throughout the poem, instigating the attitudes she interconnects about her father to be inconsistent. In the second stanza, Plath portrays her father as being “a bag full of God. ” Here Plath makes it appear that her father is Godlike, and she looks to him as a role model. Later on in the poem, Plath uses several Nazi-related images to designate her father. She even goes so distant as to draw physical parallels between her father and Hitler.

These images include “your neat mustache / And your Aryan eye, bright blue. / Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You —-” in the ninth stanza and “Every woman adores a Fascist” in the tenth stanza. These images cause a theatrical shift in tone from earlier in the poem. These Nazi images show how Plath begrudged the death of her father and saw him as a horrible person for leaving her. Since Plath grew up during WWII, she used descriptions of the most dreadful people she could find, which were Nazis, to convey this.

Plath also portrays her father as a devil, for the same intentions she uses the Nazi images, when she says “A cleft in your chin instead of your foot / But no less a devil for that… ” in the eleventh and twelfth stanzas. Plath uses equivalently strong images to deliver the persecution and detestation she felt from being controlled by the memories of her father, as well as her husband, Ted Hughes. In the first stanza, she writes “black shoe / In which I have lived like a foot / For thirty years. ” Plath is paralleling her life to a foot ensnared inside a shoe – herself being the imprisoned foot nd her father and husband being the shoe.

The color black is a symbol of death, and therefore is could be said that the shoe is killing her. Images transferring the hatred Plath felt can also be found in the twelfth and thirteenth stanzas, when she says “And then I knew what to do. / I made a model of you. / … And I said I do, I do. ” and in the fifteenth stanza, when she says “The vampire who said he was you / And drank my blood for a year, / Seven years if you want to know. ” These are in allusion to her husband, Ted Hughes.

In stanzas twelve and thirteen, Plath is indicating to when she married Ted Hughes, a man who prompted her of her father, after trying to commit suicide. Although Plath married Hughes in an endeavor to incredulous the emptiness left by her father, she was only hurt again. Hughes caused Plath to feel maltreated and subservient. Plath uses images of Jewish people to further show how she often felt dominated by men. In stanza seven, she writes “Chuffing me off like a Jew.

A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen. / I began to talk like a Jew. / I think I may well be a Jew. Stanza eight also says “With my gypsy ancestress and my weird luck / And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack / I might be a bit of a Jew. ” By connecting her life to that of a Jewish person and her father to a Nazi, Plath reveals what her life was like growing up without her father and with a callous husband. Plath compares herself to a Jew, because she feels oppressed, wedged, and constricted. Much like Hitler and the Jews, Plath’s father and dominating husband caused her to life a life full of fear. The tone/sound of this poem is an adult immersed in indignation.

This indignation, but at times omissions into the sobs of a child. This is distinct by Plath’s persistent use of the word daddy and the childlike duplication “You do not do, you do not do” (1) and “Daddy, daddy, you bastard” (80). Apprehension from her childhood moves her in ways that will take her far from herself. She also brings us harshly into the world of a child’s fear. She uses words that sound like the words of a child ogling out at behind “a barb wire snare” (26) saying “I have always been scared of you. ” (41) The tone then variants toward the end of the poem from fear of a child to a strong woman.

She states, “So daddy, I’m finally through. ”(73) “And I knew what to do. ” (63) and in the last two stanzas determines an attitude of power. Plath has overcome her powers; she has killed all the self-doubt inside of her, and she is elucidating how she now has power over the memories of her father. She is self-confident enough to speak directly to her antagonist. “Daddy” is a poem that is filled with strong, vivid imagery and tone. These images and tones are used to communicate to the reader Plath’s feelings about her life dominated by men.

Imagery is also used to illustrate Plath’s attitudes about the death of her father. Plath tussled all her life to overcome the emotional void that was left when she lost her father, and a brutal husband only supplemented her difficulties. After using poetry as a means to attempt to conquest the troubles of her life, Plath seems to have done just that. The concluding stanza of “Daddy” shows that she has proficient what she has been endeavoring for so long; “They are dancing and stamping on you. / … Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through. “

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