Oral Experience: Sylvia Plath's Daddy

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Sylvia Plath’s poem “Daddy” creates a unique oral experience through its emphasis on the inconsistent forms and repeated sounds, both of which appeal to the ear and are less visible in the written format. The oral experience differs from the visual experience of reading the poem because the oral experience uses word flow and the sounds of the words to add to the meaning of the poem. Specifically, enjambments between lines and stanzas as well as inconsistent rhyme schemes and syllable counts create a conversational flow and interrupt the unified structure of five lines to a verse. The effect of this break in unity is distinctly oral, and the auditory aspects of this poem reinforce the intensity of the speaker’s feelings of hatred and abandonment. Repeated sounds, such as harsh German words and the “-oo” sound, particularly “Jew” and “you”, also inform the oral experience and serve to reinforce the speaker’s feelings of homelessness and child-like rage towards the father. Ultimately, the oral experience of “Daddy,” which is conveyed through inconsistent forms and repeated sounds, reinforces the intensity of the speaker’s emotions, particularly her hatred, abandonment, homelessness and rage. There is a considerable difference between the written structure and the spoken structure of the “Daddy.” While the written structure appears to be organized into sixteen distinct five-line stanzas, the auditory version of the poem uses enjambment to change the formatting of the poem into something more expressive and emotional. Through enjambment between lines and stanzas, the oral experience of the poem relies less on the meanings of individual lines and more on the flow of the entire poem. This flow is conversational in nature and is ... ... middle of paper ... ...gh the oral experience of “Daddy,” the author’s anger towards her father can be seen in her repetition and juxtaposition of “I” and “you.” The poem “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath uses uneven structure and repeated sounds to create an oral experience that informs the reader of the author’s emotions, specifically anger, isolation, homelessness and rage. The uneven structure and repeated sounds are distinctly oral characteristics that are not as prevalent in the written version in the poem, as they appeal to the ear more than the eye. For this reason, the oral experience adds to the reader’s understanding of the poem. Although the written version of the poem offers many clues to its interpretation, the oral experience of “Daddy” offers a unique perspective on the form and sound structure of the poem. Works Cited Plath, Sylvia. Ariel. New York: Harper & Row, 1966. Print.

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