Sylvia Plath's Poem Daddy Essay

2347 words - 9 pages

Sylvia Plath's Poem Daddy

Plath expressed a feminist point of view in her poems, She was not a
very radical feminist, but she did show her rage against men in her
works. In "Daddy", Plath expresses her feelings about her family, and
the prominent male figures in her life: Sylvia Plath's father Otto
Emil Plath, and her husband Ted Hughes. The title itself sounds
feminine. This poem is divided into two parts. The first part, which
lasts from the first to the ninth stanza, is a brief memorandum of
Plath's father, and her gradual acceptance of his death. There are
many German/Nazi imageries in the poem, which indicate his German
origin. In the second part (tenth to eleventh stanzas) Sylvia Plath
mixes up her father and husband as one "daddy", and expresses her fear
and hatred to the two important men in her life. Besides fear and
hatred, this poem also reveals Plath's insecurity in her mind.

At the beginning of the poem Plath talks directly to her subject, "You
do not do, you do not do/Any more, Black shoe/In which I have lived
like a foot/For thirty years, poor and white, /Barely daring to
breathe or Achoo." The uselessness of the black shoe is a reference to
her father's amputated leg due to undiagnosed diabetes: Years earlier
Otto Plath was convinced of his self-diagnosis of lung cancer. He
refused to seek medical care due to a lack of efficient treatment at
that time. It was later that he decided to go see a doctor for an
infection in his foot. His death became a loss that Sylvia Plath would
always feel. Foot, the bearer of weight of the body, is a metaphor of
the feelings that weighs down Sylvia Plath's mind, being unable to
express her anxieties. "Daddy, I have had to kill you. /You died
before I had time--/Marble-heavy, a bag full of God, /Ghastly statue
with one grey toe/Big as a Frisco seal" Here, she wanted to forget her
father, to "kill" his memories in her mind. The third line of the
second stanza reveals Sylvia Plath's admiration of her father as a
god-she is a daughter who still thinks her father as an all-powerful,
omnipotent, godlike figure. The gray toe is the second reference to
his father's amputation-his right toe turned black from gangrene, a
complication of diabetes. The third stanza "And a head in the freakish
Atlantic/Where it pours bean green over blue/In the waters off
beautiful Nauset. /I used to pray to recover you. Ach, du." The
Atlantic can be an implication of his father's immigrant status, he
emigrated from Germany, crossing the Atlantic ocean, to the United
States. Nauset is a Massachusetts beach: after his father's death,
Sylvia Plath's family moved from Winthrop, a Massachusetts seaside
town near Boston, to inland Wellesley. If we read from line 8 to line
13 as one sentence we can see a colossus stretching across America
from the Atlantic to the...

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