Freedom from Male Oppression in Sylvia Plath's Daddy
Word Count includes Poem
Sylvia Plath?s poem "Daddy" describes her feelings of oppression from her childhood and conjures the struggle many women face in a male-dominated society. The conflict of this poem is male authority versus the right of a female to control her own life and be free of male domination. Plath?s conflicts begin with her father and continue into the relationship between her and her husband. This conflict is examined in lines 71-80 of "Daddy" in which Plath compares the damage her father caused to that of her husband.
The short stanzas containing powerful imagery overwhelm the readers forcing them to imagine the oppression that the speaker went through in her short life. The tone of this poem is that of an adult engulfed in outrage and who oftentimes slips into a childlike dialect; this is evident when the speaker continually uses the word "Daddy" and also repeats herself quite often. The last two stanzas of the poem, especially, portray a dismal picture of life for women who find themselves under a dominating male figure. The passage seems to show that the speaker has reached a resolution after being kept under a man?s thumb all her life.
In lines 71-80 the speaker compares her father and her husband to vampires saying how they betrayed her and drank her blood--sucking her dry of life. She tells her father to give up and be done, to lie back" (line 75) and in line 80, she says, "Daddy, daddy, you bastard,
Plath?s attitude towards men is expressed in this passage through her imagery of the villagers stamping and dancing on the dead vampire. The speaker says "If I?ve killed one man, I?ve killed two?" most likely meaning that all men are the same and ridding the world of one is equivalent to ridding the world of both.
She is also killing off the mature childish ideas of her father being her husband (Electra complex), and ridding herself of those feelings. In line 72, "The vampire who said he was you / and drank my blood for a year / seven years, if you want to know" describes her husband and the ability of male power to strip a woman of her sense of self. (Plath was married to her husband for seven years during which he had an affair with another woman.) He has drained her by drinking her blood, or figuratively sucking the life out of her. In line 75, Plath states, "Daddy, you can lie back now," as if to say the damage is done. "There?s a stake in your fat black heart and the villagers never liked you," is relevant to the image of vampires because stabbing them with a stake to the heart is the only way they die.
The villagers can be thought of as another persona for Plath who has gotten over her resentment of her father and now has just decided to forget about him. "They [the villagers] are dancing and stamping on you. / They always knew it was you," is almost ambiguous because it is not clear whether Plath is directing this to her husband or her...