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Sylvia Plath

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comment on daddy
Added by: vanessa
When one holds such ambiguious feelings toward their life and upbringing. and when one vacillates and is yet passionate on all sides especailly in regards to family and perceives oppression Only one place seems to quench the fiery hell with in. I know that truly for this type of person suicide seems the only answer. Sad but true. Rather than getting appropriately angry at oppressors or violators, victims turn it all in on themselves and create a seething cauldron of self loathin once in the cauldron the simmering becomes depression boom boom out go the light. I feel for gone Sylvia bless her eart
Added by: diggity
when reading this poem please understand that Plath was in the process of plunging head first INTO a psychic abyss - it was written shortly before her suicide. The death of her father occurred when she was 8 and this had a purely negative effect on her ultimately unstable psyche. It is therefore ill-advised to place blame on Hughes for her suicide. There is no denying the genius of Plath, the dark, violent imagery and persistent rhythm of this particular work convey her emotional anguishes brilliantly, however, they do not (and cannot) convey any truth relating to the extent of Hughes's involvement in her suicide.
Added by: monica
when reading this poem oner has to free FROM bias - a hard tassk since so much has been written about the two

The title daddy suggests to ther reader that the poem is about her father however the last to stanzas relate to hughes.

plaths father died a few days after her 8th birthday which had a detrimental effect on her psyche which she carried around for the rest of her short lived life

i believe that this poem ois a reflection on her short lived relationship with her father.

It is said that women tend to marry ppl much like there father and vice-versa for men, in the case of plath and hughes it seems that plath did exactly that. Hughes was a pupet in a play produced, directed and starred in by plath -she held the strings. Plath was emotionally unstable sh hated her father for leaving her and when hughes did the same it rubbed salt in the wound.

ultimatley noone can be blamed for hwer death no one hald a gun to her head and said if you dont stick your head in the oven than i'll kill u. plath had suicidal tendencies FROM an early age her fathers death added to this it seems she wanted to be neaar her father or bring him back to her - i used to pray to recover you- i must add that noone ewould pray too recover a rapist so therefore rape is out of the question.

plath is obviously haunted and confused by the loss of her father. In stanza 6 she comments - i thought every german was you and in stanza 7 she writes- i may well be a jew- this shows how she feels as if her father has betrayed her by dying that hew must have hated her to leave hated her as a german hates a jew

in stanza 11 the reader can see that she is reffering to hughes who has taken the place of her father - a cleft in your chin instead of your foot.

i think stanza 11 and 12 speak volumes and summarise her feelings: a cleft in your chin instead of your foot but no less a devbil for that, no not any less the black man who bit my pretty red heart in two.

she is saying that both men broke her heart first her father dying second her husband leaving and she believes thay were both devils for it. This part of the poem plath shifts the blame to hughes and otto in stanza 15 she blames her self - i've killed one man, i've killed two.

ultimatly dady is a poem where plath voices her thoughts, her anguish her hjangups on the losss of the two men she loved most. just a trhought
This Discussion is Missing th Point
Added by: Samuel Biagetti
I think that all the numerous comments posted here speculating about the suicidal bent of Plath's personality, how she did or didn't or should have or shouldn't have blamed Hughes, Otto Plath, or Hitler, for her pain, or try to trace out what stanzas are about Hughes and what ones about her father (this is especially ridiculous!) are grievoulsy missing the point.

This poem is about something much bigger and more important, even more disturbing, perhaps, than Plath's private struggles with her father's death or her childhood mistreatment (in fact, her father was a fairly bad one but hardly abusive), nor with her husband's "bastardies, usages, desertions, and doubleness," as she says in another poem, or even really her own psychology. Rather these items are all used as vivid show-pieces, as illustrations of what she is saying about the prevalent, underlying attitude of civilization in the Twentieth Century. She merges her sexist, narcissistic, power-loving and sadistic (at least, as she portrays them) father and husband almost INTO one figure, and connects them to Naziism, which is only the most known and visible example of the sort of cruel, destructive vein in human nature as manifested on the political world stage. By making this parallel, she shows how this attitude of sadistic domination pervades all levels of social relations FROM the family to the state. And she doesn't particularly blame these specific men for their cruelties, but rather pins it on their susceptibility to this larger force, as were the rank-and-file Nazis -- she suggests it was preternatural in her father, like his "Aryan Eye," and that her husband must have learned it, as he has a "Meinkampf look" and wears black, which is equated in many of her poems to comformity to social attitudes.

And she does not even blame these men for inflicting pain on her, but quite candidly blames herself, showing how she, too, has bought INTO this ideal of fascisitc masculinity and power as embodied by a Nazi "Panzer-man" and by a husband with "a love of the rack and the screw." She half-sarcastically raves that "every woman adores a fascist, the boot in the face, the brute, brute heart . . ." clearly asserting that women's consistent submission to, and even admiration of, this attitude has a sexual dimension. She also indicts herself personally for still clinging to the love of her father ("I used to pray to recover you") even though he had done her little good, for agonizing over his loss to the point of suicide, and for marrying a man who was clearly a "model" of her dreadful father, all because of her irrational attraction to this sort of ideal Aryan conqueror. She suggests that this attraction is as preternatural to her as its object is to her father, by comparing Otto Plath to a full-blown Nazi and herself to a Jew, a person marked by her ancestry for victimization by the Nazis.

I see the renunciation at the end not as a resignation to death (though that's a valid interpretation), but as a resolution to throw off this horrible ideal of masculinity and power that can be seen underlying human relations everywhere. She does not necessarily no longer love her father, or husband, but she won't SHOW them the sort of submissive respect she used to. It is significant to note that the figure of the father is never treated as an actual living person, but only as a specter, a figure in a picture or "bones." To me this confirms that she is dealing more with a mental orientation and feeling than with actual people and their actions. And the end is a confirmation that her father, who has been dead all along, "can lie back now" -- suggesting that such terrible aspects of the past as the Holocaust can only be put behind us if we renounce completely the notions and feelings that drove the perpetrators to make such things happen, as these feelings and may still reside deep in our own psyches.
Added by: Mari
And the language obscene

I An engine, an engine,

Chuffing me off like a Jew.

A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.

I began to talk like a Jew.

I think I may well be a Jew.

The narrator of this poem is set up as a daughter who was born between a military officer of Nazi that is an assailant and a Jewish woman that is a victim. According to a reference [Sylvia Plath nosekai (The world of Sylvia Plath), Akira Minami and Ikuko Atumi, Nanundo, 1982, p236~p237], this should be thought to have being made up since in fact Plath's father wasn't a military officer of Nazi and her mother was't descended FROM a Jew. However, as Plath was one of a people of ordeals during a world war, it is conceivable that Plath sympathized with and was interested in Jews very much.

I think that although actually her father was't a military officer of Nazi and her mother was't a Jew, by establishing the relationship of confrontation between an assailant and a victim, Plath, who put herself in Jews' shoes, even more tried expressing the deep emotion of hatred for her father.

I have always been scared of you,

With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.

And your neat mustache

And your Aryan eye, bright blue.

Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You-

I was ten when they buried you.

At twenty I tried to die

And get back, back, back to you.

I thought even the bones would do.

The above-mentioned book [p234~p236] shows that in this poem Sylvia Plath convicts her late father as a military officer of Nazi, while she loves him dearly. Here the emotions of her love for a wicked person and hatred for a blood relation exist. That is, ambivalence is in existence. I regard both of the emotions that stand opposite each other

as not weak feelings but very strong feelings. I consider that one of the reasons for this thinking is that the expressions of repetition are each used with regard to the both emotions.

I made a model of you,

A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.

According to the same book [p237~p238], Plath states that she made a model like her father and married it in ORDER to stop loving her father. When I come to think of this sentence, I imagine that Plath's love for her father was considerably intense. Moreover I hold that this section is one of the sections that the depth of her love is expressed the best in this poem. However, I consider that the description, "man in black with a Mwinkampf look " reveals her dissatisfaction with her father. It seems that the color, "black" has a dark image and of course, the description, "Meinkampf look" also has such an image.

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.

The same book [p238] shows that as this description is similar to the reality of married life of Plath and Ted Hughes, it seems that she prosecutes him in this part. If

the meaning of this stanza is a bit stretched, Plath criticizes general men. At any rate

only her father isn't made a victim of in this poem. I think that, the description, "drank my blood for a year, Seven years" particularly represents well how much her husband tormented her for a long time.

According to another reference [Kagaminonakanosakuran, Noriko Mizuta, Seitisha, 1981,p295~p296], the expression, "I am through" repeated means that a revenge tragedy was carried out and at the same time, it means that all were over and the life of Plath was through. I presume that Plath wanted to stress "I am through" FROM the point where the description is repeated. Either description is appeared at the end of this poem. FROM this perspective I consider that all the more "I am through"is emphasized effectively.

Another reference [Sylvia Plath sishu (Collected poems of Sylvia Plath), Shouzou Tokunaga, Ozawashoten, 1993, p65~p66] shows that after a few months since she had been abandoned by her husband, she wrote "Daddy"on 12, 10,1962, when her husband agreed to divorce her. Considered FROM the aspect of mythology, this poem dramatically composes the story of death and rebirth of which cycle is ten years, using a simple verse form of a children's song. The heroine at twenty-year-old tried to live again by dying and being with her late father who was "bones" then. The heroine at thirty-year-old cancels the relationship to her father and decides to be free by killing her father and her husband symbolically and coming back to them (dying herself).

I think that Plath's mind to live again by dying and being with her late father is of her own. If a person loved someone and then he or she died, some people may come to want to die as he or she died. However, I suppose that they don't probably take account of rebirth and won't try to live again. I consider that the originality that Plath stepped INTO even rebirth is one of noteworthy points in this poem.

references: Sylvia Plath nosekai (The world of Sylvia Plath), Akira Minami and Ikuko Atumi, Nanundo, 1982, p234~p238 / Kagaminonakanosakuran, Noriko Mizuta, Seitisha, 1981,p295~p296 / Sylvia Plath sishu (Collected poems of Sylvia Plath), Shouzou Tokunaga, Ozawashoten, 1993, p65~p66
Criticizing "Daddy"
Added by: Yukari
The title of "Daddy" means relationship between father and girl. Plath wrote this poem when she divorced her husband, so there are three people - Plath, her father and her husband in this poem. For example, in the ninth stanza 'If I've killed one man, I've killed two' means her father and her husband. This poem may mean relationship between woman and man or the weak and the strong.

In the second stanza 'Daddy, I have had to kill you. You died before I had time-', her father forsook her by his death. In this poem 'God, Luftwaffe, black man and devil' mean her father. He was very big and very strong in her mind. She could not escape FROM him. She hated him, but she loved him. In the seventh stanza 'At twenty I tried to die and get back, back, back to you' SHOW me it. She was very shocked by his death. It is may be that she wrote this poem to get over her sorrow and anger or release FROM him.

In my conclusion, she tried to kill her father and her husband to release FROM strong them in her mind. But in sixth stanza 'Every woman adores a Fascist' mean that she loves them. I think she wants to be strong like them. In final stanza 'I'm through'means two things. One meaning is finishing revenge against her father's death. Another meaning is death of Plath. She needed her death to release FROM them.

Reference books

Noriko Nagata, "Derangement in a mirror"

Chouzou Tokunaga, "Sylvia Plath Poems"
"On Daddy"
Added by: Akiko
Sylvia Plath expressed burying the image of her father in “Daddy”.

In this poem, she equates her father with Ted Hughes.

I made a model of you,

A man in black with a Meinkampf look

If I've killed one man, I've killed two --

Above stands for the identification of these two man. According to Guinevara A. Nance and Judice P. Jones’ essay on “Daddy”, “"Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through." The virulence of this and the statements immediately preceding it indicates a ritualistic attempt to transform the little girl's love INTO the adult's hatred and thereby kill the image which has preyed upon her.”Moreover,she composed this poetry in 1962 when she divorced her.

To consider these things, her divorce was the prompt of exorcist for her father’s image she was young.

Seven years, if you want to know.

The number ‘seven’ means the period Plath and Ted lived together. I suppose it means also the title of the movie, “The Seven Years Itch”(USA, 1955), whose story is the man falls in love with the woman lives next door when his wife and children go out for the long rest. ‘Seven’ involves also the short story, “Watching Me, Watching You”,which is written by the English woman feminist writer, Fay Weldon. Two women, who separates FROM the same playboy, appears in the story. Below is the speech by one of them.

“Seven years bad luck,” said Anne.

In this scene, Anne grieves that her ex-lover make a love with his new lover and she cannot forget him. Furthermore, she has a child of him. Therefore, ‘seven’ is related to capriciousness.

Added by: Nagayama Megumi
I read "Daddy". "Daddy" is about a girl with an Electra complex. She possesses feelings of love-hatred towards her father. The speaker lost her father when she was ten years old. She cannot get over his death.

The speaker compares herself to a foot. Black shoe is her father's. The color of black reminds us of his death.

She also compares her father to a nazi and a devil. She refers to the German language in this poem. Her father was German. She says "I thought every German was you". She cannot actually see him. When her father died, she was very young. So she has to create his image. In the poems, the father is a nazi. On the other hand, the speaker is a Jew. This implies an oppressive relationship. She never cannot talk to him.

Daddy implies incest between a father and a daughter. Her father's death gave Sylvia great shock. She loved him, while she hated him. She could not deal with his death.

Nagayama Megumi

Added by: Jun
Her father Otto was strict person FROM German and he came to live in America and taught German there. Her impression for her dad is kind of fearful and bizarre as the phrases in Daddy like “Ghastly statue”,“one gray toe"and ” Barely daring to breath or Achoo.” tell us.

Although it may come FROM her father Otto's HAVING passed away when she is 8 years old, a father makes an image of the long distance, fearful person who does not know wel. On the other hand the reader can see FROM her figure to try to speak Germany and search for his hometown she wanted to be close to her dad and truthfully, loved him. What makes this relationship more difficult is the reality that her dad died while she kept feeling ambiguous about his impression and couldn’t tell who is he. She might’ve keep loving and hating him since he died.

However I had another impression FROM “Daddy” stronger than her love and hate to her dad. I felt that her main theme is message for her husband Ted Hughes. When she wrote this work, she had decided to divorce FROM him who cheated her, that is to say what she really wanted to say might be hard feelings to her husband. According to her biography, she had some character that force herself to pretend that everything is going well as honor student. If that kind of her character hadn’t changed till this work was written, she might have wanted to say love and hate to her husband indirectly through her dad. When I think over this work FROM this point of view, and note some phrases like “I made a model of you” and “I’m through”she seems to try hard to cover the reality that “she was cheated in spite of her love for him” and pretended not to SHOW her miserableness., but actually she suicided after her divorce FROM Ted. I remembered the fact that she had tried to do before when she was 21 years old to go to her dad. She might tried to kill herself for the same reason as she did before. To get over the guy she loved and lost forever.
Added by: rena
In “Daddy”, Plath wrote father and husband. She is not only wanted to escape the memory of father, but also anger at her husband because he has a secret love affair. In the last line in this poem that “Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.” it may seem like a statement of capitulation: tying to overcome her distress, loving her husband, and fighting with the memory of her father.

The father was Nazi's appearance for her: “I thought every German was you. / With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo. / A man in black with a Meinkampf look.” Plath tends to return the father image in the inside of its heart in the “Daddy”.

Human relationship is complex. Plath has love and hate extremely.

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