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Confessions And Conflict In Sylvia Plath's Daddy

653 words - 3 pages

As is true of many Sylvia Plath’s poems, “Daddy” is deeply ingrained in her life experiences. It emphasizes her complex, multidimensional relationship with Otto Plath and the traumatic effect of his death. The speaker despises her late father for his abandonment, yet attempts to achieve independence from this figure who causes much pain and suffering. Through this poem’s structure, themes, and imagery, we can see the development of this constant internal struggle.
The speaker in “Daddy” is largely negative and anxious about her predicament. The rigid, and organized stanzas demonstrate the linear nature of the speaker’s thoughts. Furthermore, Plath develops the rhyme scheme with words like “do”, “shoe” (2), “Achoo” (3)”, and “you (4), which lends the poem structure in the way that these sounds repeat. Lines of “Daddy” contain repetition themselves: “You do not do, you do not do” (1), “Of wars, wars, wars” (18), “Ich, ich, ich, ich” (223). This rhythm and repetition in the first twelve stanzas collectively reveal the speaker’s inability to move beyond her childhood perception of a father. In direct contrast, the last four stanzas are more directed and aggressive as she attempts to achieve catharsis. With pronoun switches from ‘I’ to ‘you’, Plath’s thoughts seem to be outward expressions of her rage and anger. Free verse, end rhymes, and repetition in this poem show the importance of Plath’s father image.
Plath delves into several significant topics involving freedom, death, as well as gender. When referring to her father, she declares, “I thought every German was you / And the language obscene” (29-30), claiming that he has an “Aryan eye, bright blue” (44). Nazi references, in this case, refers to the speaker’s tormented state due to her father’s overbearing, authoritarian stance. As he “died before [she] had time” (183), Plath feels bound to her father, almost like an infant. She is trapped in an infant-like mentality, referenced by the poem’s title, “Daddy.” The...

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