Daddy By Sylvia Plath Essay Research Paper

Daddy By Sylvia Plath Essay, Research Paper

Sylvia Plath reveals herself in her confessional poem Daddy. She uses strong

imagery and powerful speech to show her attitudes towards her late father, Otto

Plath and her husband, Ted Hughes, who also hurt her in the end. Her tone

implies a strong hatred and disgust for the relationships with both men. The

poem was written in 1963 which happened to be the same year that she committed

suicide. Plath had a history of troubled times and attempted suicide. Plath

describes her relationship and feelings of guilt, fear, and pain her father=s

death caused her. Plath used imagery heavily in her poem to show her emotions.

She casts her father into different parts throughout the poem. Plath=s images of

her father are compared to God, a Nazi, the Devil, and a vampire. All of these

images are powerful on their own but by being put together they are almighty and

frightening. In the beginning the speaker=s childhood memories of her father are

God-like to her. Her father wasn`t God, but just Aa bag of God(8). He must have

been very powerful and impressive to her. She continues to describe her father

as a Ghastly statue with one gray toe (9), showing that her father was

overwhelming and as if he was only a copy of a person, fake and cold. Her father

was unattainable since he died while Plath was still a young child. She felt

tired of dealing with her abandonment issues and was ready to get rid of the

controlling memory of her deceased father. One can see this in the beginning of

the poem, You do not do, you do not do Any more, black shoe In which I have

lived like a foot (1-3). Plath is fighting to exorcise the memory of her father

once and all. Then Plath goes on to describe her father as a Nazi and places

herself in the role of the Jew. This helps explain how she feels that she is a

victim. There isn’t any strong wording to suggest that Otto Plath was a ?real=

Nazi. This was a symbolic realtionship of oppressor and oppressed. She

illustrated how different they were. She also identified with her Agypsy

ancestress=, showing that she was far away from the acceptable Nazi image. Plath

uses contrasting imagery with the references to swastika and the idea of a Jew,

which the Star of David is the first image to appear in the mind=s eye. She

related with the Jews in concentration camps. This shows how she felt trapped

and confined. Even the German language was harsh to her ears, AAnd the language

obscene (30). Everything that her father was, was something that she couldn`t

relate with. Then she later goes on to cast her father as the Devil. AA cleft in

your chin instead of your foot / But no less of a devil for that, no not@

(53-54). Plath uses a comparison between her father and the devil to emphasis

her attitudes toward him. The supposed characteristic of a devil=s cleft hove is

possessed by the father but not in his foot. Thought Plath is convinced that it

does not make her father any less of a devil. Her last monestrous image she

gives her father is that of a vampire. This is the point in the poem which Plath

revels her husband=s character more. In the beginning of the second half of

ADaddy,@ it is hard to pinpoint which man she is referring to. She does not

actually announce the husband until line 64 I made a model of you, A man in

black with a Meinkampf look And a love of the rack and the screw. And I said I

do, I do.(64-67) It was after Plath=s suicide attempt that she married Ted

Hughes. You can see that in line 58 through 64. She explains how she attempted

suicide and then knew what she was going to do. She married a man just like her

father, a type of surrogate for her deceased father. Maybe it was an attempt to

bring her father back or maybe it was something she did to try to cope with the

unfinished feelings she had dealing with his early death. In line 67 she says AI

do, I do@, implying that she was not just marriage Ted Hughes but also marring

the memory of her father. The poem can almost be roughly divided in half. The

first 8 stanzas can be easily related to her father and the last eight stanzas

one can she the husband being introduced. In superficial ways the two men can be

seen as one but Plath has come to realize that the one she has been idolizing

all of those years is really gone and the other is really a monster. She uses

the metaphor of the vampire to describe her father and husband. As a monster

alive but dead at the same time. That may be the reason for the confusion in

most of the poem. She married a man that reminded her of her father, only to be

hurt again. Though with the poems climax the speaker kills` the fathers memory

with a stake in your fat black heart(76). Once she was able to kill the memory

of her father, the separation of the two men occurred. Plath concluded the poem

with symbolically killing the two men, If I`ve killed one man, I`ve killed two.(71)

Plath imagery of her father and husband as vampires brings closure to both the

poem and any desire for the continuity of either relationship. In this monologue

of a woman to her Daddy, Plath addresses issues of abandonment and pain that her

father and husband caused her. Stylistic devices play an important role in

showing the many complicated aspects of Plaths attitude towards men. There was

never such powerful closure as Plath last line addressed to her father, Sad to

note that she was really, she killed herself the same year ending a life of

troubles and writings of excellence.

Henderson, Gloria Mason, Bill Day and Sandra Stevenson Waller, eds.

Literature and Ourselves: A Thematic Introduction for Readers and Writers. 2nd

ed. New York: Longman, 1997. 139.


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