• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Sylvia Plath's presentation of parent-child relationships

Extracts from this document...


Sylvia Plaths presentation of parent-child relationships Plath deals with the themes she chooses to write about, such as death, suicide and depression, in a very interesting fashion. However, out of all her themes, the one that is the most interesting is her presentation of relationships between parents and children. The way in which she deals with this theme is very different to her other poetry. She breaks many of the rules that were laid down by poets before her, such as the romantics. These series of poets stressed the idea of family and the importance of parents to children and vice versa. As a result, the vast majority of poets that wrote about these relationships thereafter presented them in a very idealistic manner, implying family harmony and lack of conflict. Therefore, when Plath started to write about family relationships in a decidedly unromantic and disturbing style, some were shocked. Instead of her poems being about the healthiness of relationships between parents and children, they are about the darker, less talked about side. ...read more.


When Plath is writing about her own parents and her relationship with them the tone of the writing is very dark, depressing and full of anger. Possibly the most interesting poem tackling this matter is "Daddy" which she wrote in 1962. In this poem Plath lays bare the tortured relationship between her and her father. She talks of having to live in a "black shoe" for thirty years, cowering, "poor and white/Barely daring to breathe or Achoo." By describing herself as "poor and white", she creates a stark contrast to the "black shoe". It is as if she has been stifled, starved of nutrition and sunlight by her all enveloping father. She is "poor", not in the sense of material value, but spiritually. She has had all feeling and emotion sapped from her by the presence of her father. The strange childhood imagery in the echo of the well-known nursery rhyme ("The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe") ...read more.


Her usage of "chuffed" obviously refers to the Nazi's transport of the Jews to the death camps by train, but it also harks back to the childhood imagery, in that it is a very childish word with associations childhood games. Despite all this anger, Plath still voices a wish to rejoin him. She was "ten when they buried (him)", and mentions that "at twenty (she) tried to die/ To get back, back, back to (him)". This shows that although her father was an overbearing, dominant, almost stifling presence in her life, he was also a very important one. Even in death he retains his power over her life and the only way in which she can escape him is to die and join him. The poem ends with threats of another suicide attempt. She cuts herself off so she can be left alone to die. The last line of the poem; "Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through", is a kind of severance from a turbulent love affair. Such reference to her father appears in Plath's other work, such as "Little Fugue". ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sylvia Plath section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Sylvia Plath essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Critical appreciation of the poem "Old Ladies' Home" by Sylvia Plath with reference to ...

    4 star(s)

    This is because the walls can be thought of to be the only 'companions' that the old women can go to, feel a sense of "warmth". The use of diction in "creep" and "prop" also gives us the impression that they are longing and yearning for the love and companionship that they once had.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Analyse the poem "Daddy" by Sylvia Plath

    4 star(s)

    This suggests several things about the poet's wishes. On the one hand, she wishes to uproot herself from her father - she wants to cut herself off from her family tree and be free of him. On the other hand, she sounds as though she has a desire to find

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Sylvia Plath,

    4 star(s)

    However, it can also be suggested that the swastika being the Nazi symbol and both the men addressed had German roots as well as the context being that of war, Plath's speaker could be straightforwardly accusing her husband for his affair.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Present the way in which imprisonment is presented in 'The Bell Jar' The ...

    3 star(s)

    For example when she talks to Doctor Gordon and her voice reflects on her experience but her inner thoughts are completely different.** Plath reveals and challenges the values of American society in several ways, these include; the sarcastic tone that Esther uses when talking about, 'All American things' challenges what is all American.

  1. Commentary on Plath's A Commentary on Plaths The Surgeon at 2am

    more specifically a gardener, doing God's dirty work in a human garden. Plath compares organs to 'tubers and fruit' and their blood to 'jammy substances', while veins are 'a mat of roots'. The unnamed 'assistants' seem to be undergardeners while the narrator does the finest pruning and operating.

  2. Sylvia Plath; The Imperfect Perfectionist.

    Another psychodynamic approach originates from explanations of attachment. Freud put forward an account, known as 'cupboard love', based on the child's attachment with its mother. He states that the reason the child is attached with its mother is because they know that their mother will provide them with their needs without delay.

  1. How powerful is The Bell Jar as a feminist text?

    However Esther starts to aim some of her anger towards Jay Cee - "Jay Cee wanted to teach me something, all the old ladies I ever know wanted to teach me something, but I suddenly didn't think they had anything to teach me."

  2. 'The Power of Plath's Imagery comes from her surprising, often controversial imagery' How far ...

    this again shows that there is no one to answer her questions apart from herself. There are many links to hospitals that may be inferred from this poem. One of which being 'her white shop smock' this replicates the feeling of a doctor ready to give treatment.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work