Poet Sylvia Plath committed suicide in 1963 by inhaling gas from her kitchen stove (Werlock). What could have possibly caused her so much pain in her life that she ended it so early? The answer lies within her life and her poetry, a theme that is clearly repeated throughout her brief time on this planet: she searched and searched, but she could never find a genuine, stable male relationship/role in her life.
Throughout her career as a poet, Sylvia Plath wrote about many topics, ranging from death to women’s rights, but one of the most common themes throughout her poetry was her love/hate relationship with men. Her struggle to find a male figure that she could rely on lasted through all 30 ...view middle of the document...
Although she had very little time with him, he had a huge influence on her poetry later in life. Ted Hughes, Sylvia’s husband, spoke of her later in her life after her father’s death, saying that, she “worshipped her father” (Aird 4). Even so, Sylvia would grow up to have different beliefs than what her father had about men and women’s places in the world.
Sylvia’s obsession with finding a dependable male figure in her life is shown in her famous poem, “Daddy.” This poem describes the very heart of where her search started, with the first man in her life, her father. Sylvia had a rocky relationship with her father during her childhood, as told about by Barnard, starting with his preference for a son instead of a daughter on Sylvia’s birthday (14).
She begins her poem saying, “Daddy, I have had to kill you/ You died before I had time.” She is saying how she had a bad relationship with him and wanted to be rid of him when she was young, but he then died, leaving her feeling uncertain about him. She also talks about their rocky relationship when she says, “I have always been scared of you.” When Sylvia writes, “Barely daring to breathe or Achoo,” she is describing how she had to act around her father. But she also depicts how she loved him and wanted to be with him when she writes, “Bit my pretty red heart in two/ I was ten when they buried you/ At twenty I tried to die/ And get back, back, back to you.” When she says, “I used to pray to recover you,” she is saying how before, when she was young, she used to look up to him, but when she discovered his true personality as an adult, through her mother and her memories, she realized she didn’t want him to be a part of her life. She then goes on later in the poem to really emphasize this point, saying over and over, “So Daddy, I’m finally through,” and, “Daddy, Daddy, you bastard, I’m through.”
According to A. Alvarez, Sylvia shows throughout the poem, “a kind of cooling tenderness in this which complicates the other, more savage note of resentment. It brings in an element of pity, less for herself and her own suffering than for the person who made her suffer.” Alvarez is saying that Sylvia is showing her love for her father, but she is also showing her hatred of him for leaving, and she pities her father for leaving her so early. This ties into her search for her male figure because she is sad and upset throughout this poem about her father leaving her and that she doesn’t have him anymore (“Plath’s Concern With Loss of Identity”).
Fast forward about 16 years later to when Sylvia lived at Cambridge University in England, where Sylvia met her future husband(and source of most of her pain) in March of 1956, Ted Hughes (Barnard 19). Barnard says that in June of the same year, they got married (19).
Sylvia took on the role of Ted’s agent, and his first book was published in 1957 (Barnard 20). Sylvia put her whole heart into the publication, saying that, “I am more happy than if it was my book...