“You do not do, you do not do/Anymore, black shoe,” proclaims Plath in the opening lines of “Daddy” (222), introducing the world to her father, ominous in the color black and consistent in his inability to “do” anything for Plath “anymore.” This depiction of the father as an shoe instead of a man also presents Plath’s deft use of imagery to color the character of her father, this time with the shade of a black shoe. This image makes the father sound “stifling” (“Slayer” 1).
The imagery of the black shoe is also powerful in explaining the nature of Plath’s posthumous relationship with her father. Shoes usually protect the foot, provide warmth for it (Goelzhaeuser 1). Shoes in the poem, however, do not invoke the sheltering, caring ...
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...ountry. However, it seems likely that she died as she lived, haunted by a combination of the two, her deceased father pointing out her failures from far away in her childhood and her substitute husband becoming another one of those failures from another woman’s apartment. The imagery of “Daddy,” of her father and her husband, each her protector and her abuser in one, stands a testament of words to just that.
Barnard, Caroline King. Sylvia Plath. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1978.
Goelzhauser, Nicola. “Imagery in Sylvia Plath’s ‘Daddy.’” Online.
“Oedipus Complex.” Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. 1993.
Plath, Sylvia. The Collected Poems. Ed. Ted Hughes. NewYork: Harper Perennial, 1972.
“Sylvia the Vampire Slayer.” Online. http://members.aol.com/raisans/plath.htm.
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