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In the poem

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Introduction

Dodo Ip In the poem "Daddy", Sylvia Plath expressed her fear and hatred toward her subject "daddy." Is it her father, or somebody else, that she really hates? 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. ...read more.

Middle

In the eighth stanza Plath mentions another homeless race-the gypsies. "The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna/Are not very pure or true. /With my gypsy ancestress and my weird luck/And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack/I may be a bit of Jew." Tyrol is an Austrian Alpine region. Gypsies, like the Jews, were objects of Nazi genocidal ambition, and many of them died in concentration camps. Plath's identification with Jews and Gypsies brings to mind "wandering nations." It implies that Plath feels that she is alone, helpless in the world, that someone is torturing her both emotionally and physically. On the other hand, Sylvia Plath's references of Austria or Tyrol can be about her mother Aurelia Plath, who was of Austrian descent. The "snows" and "beer" are not "very pure or true", which depicts an attractive fa�ade that masks an ugly reality. Plath might feel that her mother embodied an image outwardly sweet and affectionate with a negative and destructive inside. The next stanza consists of some descriptions of her father's appearance, who had bright blue eyes and kept neat moustache: "I have always been scared of you, /With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo. /And your neat moustache/And your Aryan eye, bright blue. /Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You-" Both luftwaffe and panzer are German air force and Nazi tank corps respectively. "Gobbledygoo" may mean gobbledygook, wordy and generally unintelligible jargon. Again, Sylvia Plath laments the loss of her German language. So far in this poem we can feel that Plath was still haunted by her father's death long ago. ...read more.

Conclusion

Plath's hatred of her father and her husband combined with her own self-loathing created a chimerical, impersonal frustration in the poem-"if I've killed one man, I've killed two--/The vampire who said he was you/And drank my blood for a year, /Seven years, if you want to know. /Daddy, you can lie back now." Plath decided to erase Hughes from her memory, to "kill" him, like she did to her father. The vampire is Hughes, whose marriage with Plath lasted for seven years before they separated. The blood-sucking image of the vampire probably suggests her father's study of parasites, "Muscid Larvae of the San Francisco Bay Region Which Sucks Blood of Nesting Birds", a study that documents the endurance, tenacity, and enormous destructiveness of these larvae. This may also explain why Plath uses "Frisco Seal" in the first place: not only because there are seals in San Francisco, but also because this is the place where her father conducted his research on muscid larvae. At last, Plath decides to slay the one man that has always haunted her peace of mind: "There's a stake in your fat black heart/And the villagers never liked you. /They are dancing and stamping on you. /They always knew it was you. /Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through." It remains doubtful if Plath had really got "thorough" her father (or husband.) "Daddy", indeed, is her resentment of being unable to get "through" her fear and idolization of father/husband. It is a record of how her feelings of these two important male figures in her life turn from admiration to hatred and disgust. The poem contains great amount of imageries that can be subjected to various interpretations. ...read more.

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