Analysis Of Plath

’s “Daddy” Essay, Research Paper

Sylvia Plath uses her poem, Daddy, to express deep emotions toward her father?s life and death. With passionate articulation, she verbally turns over her feelings of rage, abandonment, confusion and grief. Though this work is fraught with ambiguity, a reader can infer Plath?s basic story. Her father was apparently a Nazi soldier killed in World War II while she was young. Her statements about not knowing even remotely where he was while he was in battle, the only photograph she has left of him and how she chose to marry a man that reminded her of him elude to her grief in losing her father and missing his presence. She also expresses a dark anger toward him for his political views and actions in such passages as: ?Not God but a swastika / so black no sky could squeak through? and ??the brute / Brute heart of a brute like you.? She goes on talk about how her poor or non-existent relationship with her father caused her to enter an unhealthy relationship. Finally, she conveys a mood of overcoming this man?s dark hold on her. She is still filled with unhealthy rage toward him but in her repeating that she is ?through? and discussing having killed someone she demonstrates her feelings of self-empowerment.

As Plath is using this poem as her personal forum to release her emotions, she also provides her audience with a look of her artistic style. She creates a poem that will enthrall the reader using mediums like vague material such as stanza two (2):

?Daddy, I have had to kill you.

You died before I had time-

Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,

Ghastly statue with one gray toe

Big as a Frisco seal.?

She also uses quite a bit of repetition to emphasize her points. A repeated word tends to offer a high level of exaggeration. She does not use repeated sounds so much as words or phrases that allow the audience to almost picture a woman screaming angrily. She also presents a slight rhythm to the reading that allows for smooth reading. In keeping with her open form, there is no set scheme to the rhyme pattern. However, there is a single ending sound constantly repeated without a set pattern throughout the work. She also connects pairs of lines at random just for the sake of making connections to make that particular stanza flow. At the same time, she chose blatantly not to rhyme in certain parts to catch the reader?s attention.

There are a few instances where imagery is used to carry out Plath?s expression. To cite a particular example that might lead a reader deduce their own ideas can be found in the last stanza: ?And the villagers never liked you. / They are dancing and stamping on you.? This undoubtedly expresses her father?s death and burial but more importantly it states a certain humiliation she faced from everyone knowing what her father had died for, along with her own rage toward him. Another can be found in lines 24-25: ?I never could talk to you. / The tongue stuck in my jaw.? The picture of someone being tongue-tied along with her statement in line 41: ?I have always been scared of you,? demonstrate just that; she was fearful of her father. She also gives an image that provides the reader a view of how Plath physically viewed her father and chose a man that she states reminds her of him: ?A man in black with a Meinkampf look.? As most victims or people with poor self-esteem, she chose to place herself in the same unpleasant life as she had had with her father by marrying a man that was just like him. She repeatedly talks of the color black expressing her dark perspective of her father and life in general. She also uses language that portrays darkness without using colors, for example in lines 71-73:

?If I?ve killed one man, I?ve killed two-

The vampire who said he was you

And drank my blood for a year.?

This passage eludes that she may or may not have actually killed her husband and in doing so conquered her father in a sense. Nevertheless, it demonstrates her dark perspective of her marriage in describing her husband as a vampire that continually tortured her.

Plath?s work in the poem is undoubtedly bold and expressive. She uses a passion that makes her point clear even though her language may not necessarily be so obvious. She allows her readers to ride the roller coaster of battling her emotions with a freedom that suggests the piece was written for strictly personal expression; never to be read by others. The majority of the poem may certainly even be open for a variance of interpretations providing for a truly interesting work.

Work Cited

Plath, Sylvia. ?Daddy.? Literature: The Evolving Canon. Eds. 2nd ed.

Boston: Allyn and Bacon. 571-573

?You do not do, you do not do

Any more, black shoe

In which I have lived like a foot

For thirty years, poor and white,

Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.5

Daddy, I have had to kill you.

You died before I had time-

Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,

Ghastly statue with one gray toe

Big as a Frisco seal10

And a head in the freakish Atlantic

Where it pours bean green over blue

In the waters off beautiful Nauset.

I used to pray to recover you.

Ach, du.15

In German tongue, in the Polish town

Scraped flat by the roller

Of wars, wars, wars.

But the name of the town is common.

My Polack friend20

Says there are a dozen or two.

So I never could tell where you

Put your foot, your root,

I never could talk to you.

The tongue stuck in my jaw.25

It stuck in a barb wire snare.

Ich, ich, ich, ich,

I could hardly speak.

I thought every German was you.

And the language obscene30

An engine, an engine

Chuffling 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.35

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna

Are not very pure or true.

With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck

And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack

I may be a bit of a Jew. 40

I have always been scared of you,

With you Luftwaffe, Your gobbledygoo.

And your neat mustache

And your Aryan eye, bright blue.

Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You-45

Not God but a swastika

So black no sky could sqeak through.

Every woman adores a Fascist,

The boot in the face, the brute

Brute heart of a brute like you. 50

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,

In the picture I have of you,

A cleft in your chin instead of your foot

But no less a devil for that, no no

Any less the black man who 55

Bit my pretty red heart in two.

I was ten when they buried you.

At twenty I tried to die

And get back, back, back to you.

I thought even the bones would do. 60

But they pulled me out of the sack,

And they stuck me together with glue.

And then I knew what to do.

I made a model of you,

A man in black with a Meinkampf look 65

And a love of the rack and the screw.

And I said I do, I do.

So daddy, I?m finally through.

The black telephone?s off at the root,

The voices just can?t worm through.70


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