Daddy - Sylvia Plath Commentary

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Daddy – Sylvia Plath
English Commentary

Daddy is a confessional poem written by the famous American poet Sylvia Plath. The poem was written on October 12, 1962 shortly before her death. It gives the readers glimpses from her life and the poem can be said to be symbolic. The tittle “Daddy” symbolizes her father and Germany, its culture, people and the events that took place when the poem was written, ethnic cleansing and the killing of Jews. The poem gives us the views of the author, Sylvia Plath on the Nazis and their acts like mass killing of Jews on the name of Purity. The relative popularity of “Daddy” can be attributed to Plath’s use of Imagery and the controversial use of Holocaust as metaphor. Many also believe “Daddy” to be a response of Sylvia Plath’s complex relationship with her father Otto Plath and her husband Ted Hughes.

The poem “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath deals with a girl’s deep attachment to the memory of her father and the unhappiness it caused in her life. The poem can also be said as an outlet for Plath to deal with her father’s death or her husband’s betrayal. The poem reads life a confessional story from the personal life of the author. Plath can be seen to reinvent the relationship as one between a Nazi and a Jew creating what can be said as an “oppressor-oppressed” dynamic, which was similar to what existed between her, and her father. Sylvia Plath herself called the poem to be based on a girl with Electra complex. The speaker, Plath creates a figurative image of her father using varied metaphors to describe her relationship with him. She calls him like a black shoe the she had lived in, like a statue that stretches across the United states, like God who had the ultimate power, like a Nazi who was full of hatred and was stern, like a swastika and finally like a vampire who sucked her blood. The speaker, full of fear of her father represents herself as a Jew and her father as a hardcore Nazi. The poem shows the struggle of Plath showing that though his father was very strict and had the wrong perspective but she is through him now.

The tittle of the poem itself, “Daddy” is a metaphor for men in general and of evil. This poem is like a stake in the heart of her fathers disturbing memories that she wants to get rid off. It can be noted that reading tittle, the tone the poem might express would be of the love of a child towards their father but it is totally the second side of a coin. This can be said to be very ironic as this tittle is used to also symbolize Nazi’s, vampires, and devils. This shows us the internal fight in the reader for love and hatred towards her father. The poem describes her feelings of oppression and her battle to come to grips with the issues of this power imbalance. The poem also conjures the struggle many women face in a male dominated society.

The conflict of this poem is male authority and control versus the right of a female to be herself, to make choices, and be free of male domination. Plath's conflicts begin in her relationship with her father and continue with her husband. The intensity of this conflict is extremely apparent as she uses examples that cannot be ignored. The atrocities of NAZI' Germany are used as symbols of the horror of male domination. The constant and crippling manipulation of the male, as he introduces oppression and hopelessness into the lives of his women, is equated with the twentieth century's wars period. Words such as Luftwaffe, panzerman, and Mein Kampf look are used to describe her father and husband as well as all male domination similar to the dictatorship of Hitler then. The frequent use of the word black throughout the poem conveys a feeling of gloom and suffocation. Like many women in society, we know that Plath felt oppressed and stifled throughout her life by her use of the simile "I have lived like a shoe for...
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