7 March 2012
In the poem “Daddy”, Sylvia Plath uses many literary devices to illustrate her struggles for freedom in relationship, precisely with her father and husband. She uses heavy metaphors and dense allusion to create imagery of hatred towards her relationship between both men. It is important to know Plath’s historical background before readers dive into any of her artistic work. Sylvia had a very negative relationship with men in her life especially her father and husband. Slyvia’s father, Otto Plath passed away when she was eight, in which it took a huge toll in Sylvia’s life. Sylvia had always longed for a good relationship with her father, but Otto’s true connection between his children was only through academic achievement. This prompts Sylvia to work hard and excel in school, but death came visiting her father too early before they reach the ultimate father and daughter relationship Sylvia had hoped for. She felt disappointed, and in some way cheated because her failure to really get to know the man whom she calls father (“Shmoop Editorial Team”).
Her real-life husband Ted Hughes also affected her emotionally as he left her for another woman after a long struggle in their marriage. This only contributes her rage, and vengeance which would come up in her later work. Even though we usually are very strict when it comes to separating the speaker of the poem and the author of the poem, in many ways, her real-life persona speaks for her in the poem. It wouldn’t be fair to take her word in the poem granted as a display of her relationship (like comparing her father to a German Nazi, and a vampire) but we can analytically unravel the hidden message in the metaphor she uses to describe her constant battle with struggle in her life. She starts off the essay with:
Any more, black shoe.
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo....