Daddy

Daddy

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In the poem, “Daddy,” Sylvia Plath shows her character to have a love for her father as well as an obvious sense of resentment and anger towards him. She sets the tone through the structure of the poem along with her use of certain diction, imagery, and metaphors/similes. The author, Sylvia Plath, chooses words that demonstrate the characters hatred and bitterness towards the oppression she is living with under the control of her father and later, her husband. Plath’s word choice includes many words that a child might use. There is also an integration of German words which help set the tone as well. She creates imagery through her use of metaphors and similes which allow the reader to connect certain ideas and convey the dark, depressing tone of the poem.
The absence of a specific rhyme pattern also contributes chaos to the tone. The structure of the poem is abstract, much like the characters thoughts and feelings. The rhymes are all over the place and the rhythm is often broken up with words that make it unbalanced and add tension. Another technique the author uses is lots of repetition. This helps to add emphasis and give a more dramatic effect to certain phrases. “Ich, ich, ich, ich,” (932) adds emphasis to her being unable to speak. At some points the repetition sounds a bit childlike showing her inner child. This is evident when she says “and get back, back, back to you” (933). The repetition along with the abundant use of “--oo” sounds and when the author uses terms like “achoo”, “daddy”, “freakish”, “neat”, and “gobbledygoo,” seems to create a Dr. Seuss effect on the poem. It is apparent the naïve child within her is influencing her thoughts and writings. Then, when the dark metaphors and the negative connotation towards her father are added, the tone is set. The internal conflict becomes apparent between the child who loved her “daddy” and the woman who has learned to see the man for what he truly was, a monster.
She compares her dad to a “black shoe in which [she has] lived like a foot” (931). The “shoe” smothers and suffocates her by not allowing her to breathe. She uses another metaphor when she writes that her tongue was stuck in her jaw (932). She was unable to speak for so long that now things, that have been repressed for so long, are coming through.

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The woman has a picture of her father “[standing] at the blackboard” with “a cleft in [his] chin” (933). Many great men, as well as superheroes, have cleft chins and she wants to remember her “daddy” as a good guy. However, she realizes he is “not God but a swastika” (933). She uses metaphor again to compare her father to a Nazi. She has “always been scared of [him],” with his “Luftwaffe,” “neat mustache,” and Aryan eye” (933). Her father is a “man in black,” like her husband whom she married as a “model of [her dad]” and states that he, her husband, also has a “Meinkampf look” and “love of the rack and screw,” or torture (933). All this use of German and WWII/Nazi era vocabulary gives the poem an authentic feeling of the time frame in which the poem takes place and adds to the effectiveness of conveying her message. The image of the black uniforms, which were typically Nazi or SS troops, demonstrates authority and power and the demand for respect. The image of someone with so much power also incites fear into those who are seen as inferior. Despite his authority, dominance and power, the girl has a definite love for her “daddy” and misses him. She wishes that he would have been there for her when she was a girl. “I used to pray to recover you” (932) shows her desire and longing for him. Even when she was “twenty [she] tried to die” (933) in order to be with him again.
After the failed suicide attempt, she thinks she will be able to recreate her father being in her life by marrying “a model of [him]” (933). It is after she gets married that she compares her dad and husband to vampires (933). This metaphor shows how her father and husband have sucked the life out of her for so long and she was still being dominated by the men in her life. She had to find a way to free herself from the oppression.
She finally realizes what she must do. She states the “black telephone’s off at the root, the voices just can’t worm through” (933). Even though her father is already dead physically, she has now killed him again in her mind. She has killed her husband figuratively as well when she writes, “If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two” (933).
The metaphor that “There’s a stake in [his] fat black heart” and the villagers dancing and stomping on him (934) shows that she has finally resolved her issue of being dominated and oppressed. She is “finally through” and she repeats it again in the last line calling her daddy a “bastard” (934), relinquishing herself from the hold her father has had on her.




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