“Daddy” – Sylvia Plath (Poetry Analysis 1)
Plath, best known for her confessional poetry is credited to have written the poem “Daddy” in the year, 1962. However, it was posthumously published in 1965. The use of explicit imagery throughout the poem reflects her style. Using the Holocaust as a metaphor, Plath gives the poem its much-intended nightmarish quality suggestive of her complex relationship with her father, Otto Plath. “Daddy” is almost potentially autobiographical in the sense that it provides a vivid, confessional representation of Plath’s mental illness. Plath seems to be using small details from her day-to-day life. These images and references may at first seem incomprehensible from a distance. However, gathering background information on Plath or a scholar providing an explanation in his footnotes help render these references as somewhat comprehensible.
The poem deals with Plath’s over-attachment to her father and the unease and unhappiness it caused within her life. It seems Plath wanted the authoritative repression caused by her father’s overpowering presence yet his utter absence to be blatantly obvious to her audience. She compares her father to a black shoe she has been living inside of; a Nazi: comparing herself to a Jew therefore creating an oppressor-oppressed relationship between her father and herself in the poem; a swastika and finally a vampire of which there were two in her life; her father and her husband. The poem is also a manifestation of her apparent Electra complex. The lines, “I made a model of you, A man in black with a Meinkampf look” are in reference to her husband, Ted Hughes whom she may have been attracted to cause of his resemblance to her father. It is a deliberation on a paternal relationship that ended when Plath was a child. The poem is almost a declaration of independence but having lived her entire life being unable to communicate her pain and anguish, the idea of finally being able to liberate herself from the...
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