Gaining Freedom From Male Oppression In Sylvia Plath's "Daddy"

992 words - 4 pages

Plath's poem "Daddy" describes feelings of oppression from childhood and conjures up 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 to be free of male domination.

This poem starts out describing her struggle as one that has been unresolved because she was just a child when her father died. "Daddy, I have had to kill you. / You died before I had time / Marble-heavy, a bag full of God," (lines 6-8). She gives us the sense that she had built up her father so much in her mind after he died that the weight of these thoughts and imaginations became too heavy to carry around anymore and she finally realized that in order for her to move on in life she would have to "kill her father's" memory.

This then is seemingly the turning point in her life were she no longer feels oppressed by her father and is free of his burden on her. "So daddy, I'm finally through. / The black telephone's off at the root," (lines 68-69). She is no longer listening to the inner demons tormenting her, she wants to begin anew. However Plath's inner conflicts which began with her father ended up continuing on into her future relationships.

It then becomes her life goal to meet a man "The man" to replace the loss of her father. "I made a model of you," (line 64). A short time later Plath marries this man as a solution to her unresolved issues with her father. He is a resemblance of her memories of her father. "And a love of the rack and the screw. / And I said I do, I do." (lines 66-67). As if her memories weren't destructive enough to her emotionally she sets out on another journey of dissolution.

Plath then provides us with the view of hardship of a woman of the times not being able to speak her mind and always having to hold back. "The tongue stuck in my jaw. / It stuck in a barb wire snare." (lines 25-26). She came face to face with the role of a woman in the 1950's which was to give up one's self and become be the perfect wife and doting mother. She would have to embrace convention as this was the societal norm and give up a piece of herself. So once again she is victimized and regresses to comparing the damage her father initially caused to that of her husband. "If I've killed one man, I've killed two / The vampire who said he was you / And drank my blood for a year," (lines 71-73).

At the end of this poem Plath's feelings of hopelessness consume her and she decides to try and take her own life. "At twenty I tried to die / And get back, back, back to you." (lines 58-59). ...

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