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Sylvia Plath

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Comments about Daddy
Added by: demi
    A criticism about “Daddy”

This poem is mainly recited about Plath’s father.

As a distinctive, in this poem, there are repetitive words.

For example, “You do not do, you do not do.” Or, “Of wars, wars, wars.”

I think that these repetitive words have an effect to echo in ours heart and remain.

These make us have reverberations. And, expression of colors appear many times.

So, we should consider how these colors change gradually, and what’s color which is related to the daddy. And, at the same time, we should consider how the image of the sea is used.

Plath feels affection toward her father, but that is an incestuous affection, and, that affection is also anger. And, in this poem, we can find the expression of the Natis germany. Her father sometime becomes Nati or devil.

“a jew” and “an engine” mean to a goods train which send to a concentration.

In this way, we can guess many kind of heart of Plath.

Added by: Reuben
Integral to an appreciation of confessional poetry is an understanding of the persona, or character, that the poet presents in the poem. While a knowledge of Plath's history may lend itself to the belief that the poem is autobiographical, you have to realise that the emotions conveyed in "Daddy" are also relevant in a much broader context, as Samuel B. mentions. Trying to relate all references of father and husband to Otto Plath and Ted Hughes is ultimately a futile exercise. "Daddy" contains clever elusions to power and domination, and the inner subconscious lust for destruction, which are as much human characteristics as they are masculine, seen by the fact they are represented by Nazism as well as male characters.

So many of Plath's poems, like 'The Applicant' and 'Tulips', contain a message of criticism of society – a feature of modernism, to the extent of rejection of society, in Tulips, and here in Daddy – “Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.” Not only does the speaker reject her father, but the ideology that he represents. Throughout the poem there are a multitude of contradictions, another feature of Plath’s work. For example, the general theme of intent to be distant FROM the ‘father’ is explicitly contradicted in the 12th Stanza, where she says “At twenty I tried to die / And get back…to you.” This comes directly after her labeling him ‘a devil’ who ‘bit [her] pretty red heart in two’. One would have thought that the line should read “At twenty I tried to die / And get back…at you”, the ultimate Medea-like revenge which would have been suited to many of Plath’s speakers. However, it may also be read that the speaker of “Daddy” is only human, and that she too, possesses these human characteristics of power-lust and inner hatred which she so despises. For this reason she is ‘drawn back’ to Daddy, and she ‘makes a model of [him].’

Another mystifying contradiction is the speaker’s self-image. Through the first nine or so stanzas, the speaker portrays herself as the victim – made explicit through numerous references to Jews and the Holocaust. She also mentions Gypsies, another ostracized group, and talks about her fear of Daddy. However she then goes on to talk about her ‘love of the rack and the screw’, a certain sense of distorted enjoyment, though it could also be read as being cynical.

One of the most noticeable and evocative features of Plath’s poetry is her use of colour. Her images of ‘black shoe’, ‘grey toe’, ‘black man’, ‘black telephone’, and most notably, Daddy’s ‘fat black heart’, all serve the purpose of dark, morbid and moulded things. Some are moulded by society – the generic black telephone and the black shoe, which she has ‘lived in like a foot’ – the shoe has moulded her. Others are used in direct contrast with the other colours of the play – most notably red, of blood, of her heart. Of particular interest is the contrast of Daddy’s ‘fat black heart’ with the speaker’s own ‘pretty red heart’. This contrast supports the speaker’s earlier idea of distancing herself FROM her father, which ultimately proves futile, as she too is human. Another image put to good use is that of the ‘pure’ snows of the Tyrol and the clear beer of Vienna, which have been tainted by man’s (and society’s) underlying problems.

So you see, by trying to relate every event, character and idea in a poem to real life references, one can often undermine the value of confessional poetry, whose main feature is the ability to combine real recounts with conceptual or ideological themes

Added by: Asumi
There are some expression about Foot and Shoe. In the first stanza, there is a phrase “black shoe” and it means Sylvia’s father and the color “black” means the death. Of course her father had died when she made this poem. In addition, my image of black is stern, fear, vice… So for thirty years she lived with fear for her father.

There is an interpretation about “ black shoe”. It says “The adjective "black" suggests the idea of death, and since the shoe is fitting tightly around the foot, one might think of a corpse in a coffin. The speaker thus feels at the same time protected and smothered by her father.” According to it, Sylvia felt as if she was protected by her father, but I don’t think so because she wrote like this.

So I never could tell where you

Put your foot, your root,

I never could talk to you.

From this part, we can image she was alone and he stand very far FROM her, he was not same language and race as Sylvia. We can also image that she wanted to communicate with him FROM the next part.

But they pulled me out of the sack,

And they stuck me together with glue.

“Me” and “sack” can REPLACE with “foot” and “shoe” and she wanted to be in the sack or shoe but she must have been out. So I thought her real feelings was to be with her father and in this poem she wanted to say that she wanted to know more about her father when he had lived.

Added by: Junko

There are a lot of colors in this poem. I think she expresses her feelings by using various colors.

For example, this poem is written in ambivalence of love and disgust. I think Plath expresses them by using colors.

And a head in the freakish Atlantic

Where it pours bean green over blue

And your Aryan eye, bright blue

In these lines, Plath expresses love for her father by using blue and green. I think "a head in the freakish Atlantic" represents her father.

Any more, black shoe

Ghastly statue with one gray toe

So black no sky could squeak through.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,

A man in black with a Meinkampf look

The black telephone's off at the root,

In these lines, Plath expresses disgust against her father and her husband by using black and grey. I can feel she hates them by the image of black.

For thirty years, poor and white

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna

She expresses herself by the image of white. I think she wants to say that she is colorless and weak, so she is killed like Jews. In addition, I think, Plath contrasts this white image about Plath with black image about her father and her husband.

In conclusion, I think Plath extends her world in poem by using various images of colors.

Added by: Kumiko Sakata

I thought that Silvia Plath had a very strong feeling against her father who died when she was only a child. The point that I thought was interesting was that in this poem she uses many words, which describe the Nazis and the Second World War.

“In the German tongue, in the Polish town/Scraped flat by the roller/Of wars, wars, wars./But the name of the town is common/My Polack friend”

“Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen”

She had a German image toward her father because he was a German immigrant. When

she thought of the cruel Nazis, she might thought about her father vaguely. Also she

might thought about Ted Hughes, her husband.

“I made a model of you,/A man in black with a Meinkampf look”

She was angry about both of them for betraying her in many ways. In this poem was

written FROM her own experience for example her suicide, mother and so on. I thought

we can know many thing about her FROM this poem.

Added by: Asuka Yahata
Throughout Daddy, I feel something dark and some fear. This theme is often said Electra complex . I think so, too.

At twenty I tried to die

And get back, back, back to you.

These two lines reflect that theme obviously. Plath loved her father. I think she wanted to be with him.

However, on the other hand, I feel her strong detestation of her father in this poem.

I think I may well be a Jew.

This words are expressed her that feeling. Before that, she said clearly her father is German by using German language, Ach du, etc. You know German treated Jew badly historically. So, I think this line is important because she must have thought her father hated her.

The poem is written about her complicated motion, a mixture of love and disgust for her father, I consider.

Added by: HIROKO
Daddy is the father of Sylvia Plath.

in which I have lived like a foot

For thirty years,poor and white,

Barely daring to breath or Achoo

she says that she has restrained her feelings while she has lived without breathing for thirty years.

Daddy,I have had to kill you.

I think that the reason she have had to kill you is that she wants to become a new woman and by killing you,she can escape FROM a trying situation.

That is to say,she describes the relationship between her father and her as an assailant and a victim.And She has a strong grudge against him who is an assailant.

So daddy,I am finally thorough.

Daddy,you can lie back now.

This says that she took vengeance on her father and at the same time he can have peace of mind.

But I think that she feels a grudge against her father while she longs for him.Every woman adores a Fascist,shows this.Her father is an assailant and the strong.Fascist shows the strong.So,I think that she holds him in esteem somewhere.

I think that she holds a grudge against her father,and she wants to have a hunt for her father who died when she was small.She expects him to help her out of a difficulty.

I think that her feelings toward him are ambivalent-love and hate.

This poem shows this,I think.

Added by: Mie

In this poetry, I think Plath has love and hate or anger against her father.

"Daddy, I have had to kill you."

"You died before I had time----"

Plath was shocked by the death of her father. Her father was dead before she amply came in contact with her father.

"I used to recover you."

She had a grudge against her father. At the same time she really needed her father.

"I never could talk to you."

Plath tried to recover her father but she actually couldn't do and talk to her father even in her image.

"And I said I do, I do."

"The black telephone 's off at       the root,

"The voices just can't worm        through."

There appears Plath's father and Plath's husband in this poetry. 'I do' is words of oath in a wedding ceremony. Plath and her husband were not in good with each other.

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

This shows that Plath wanted to kill her father and her husband in her spirit.

"Daddy, you can lie back now."

Plath succeeded in killing not only her father but also her husband.

"Daddy, daddy, you bastard,        I'm through."

At this point, the life of Plath may be finished and she finished with killing her father and her husband who she loved.

Plath had a feeling of ambivalence: love and hate. I think Plath was aching so she might think that she must kill her father in her mind and she got a relief by killing. I really think young children are influenced by a death of father. Although Plath grew up, the image of her father was not change for her.
Added by: Mariko
It seems that the poetry of Daddy are full with the ideas of the speakers fear and hatred toward her father. The speaker imagines her father as the Nazis, Black man, or devil, which are all negative images. And we can know how much she hates her father FROM the part that her hatred is shown directly, Daddy, I have had to kill you..

On the contrary, we could also see and feel her love to her father FROM this poetry. She writes about her fathers infection of gangrene and that shows that she is worrying about him very much. In addition to this, we can know that the speaker seems to have desire to go to where her father is by At twenty I tried to die and get back, back, back to you. I thought even the bone would do.. She wants to be with his father even if it meant death. Thinking about the title Daddy, we can say that the word Daddy was used as a title because her father died when she was only 8 years old. However it also seem that the word Daddy includes her feeling of wanting to depend on her father more if he was alive.

Like this, she is wandering between the feeling of hatred and love to her father. In this poetry, it seems that she is still controlled by her dead father.

Reference: A Critique of the Poem Daddy


Added by: Kumiko Arai

By Kumiko Arai

Throughout the poem Daddy by Sylvia Plath, I feel her love and hate to her father, Otto Plath, strongly. This love and hate is called Electra complex in psychology.

Plath once said about this poem:

The speaker in this poem is a daughter who has an Electra complex. Her father died while she believed him as the God. Her circumstances are complicated. This is because her father is a member of Nazi and surely her mother has Jewish blood in her vein.

I dont know how I can receive her explanation, but I think it is all right to take her biographic fact in consideration to some extent in interpreting this poem.

The poem begins with a series of metaphors about Plaths father. They are, for example, shoe statue foot root, which means her love to him like the God, but gradually the metaphors comes to mean her hate to him like the Satan. They are, for example, a brute a devil. Near the end, a new metaphor comes out. It is about her husband, Ted Hughes, for instance vampire. What on earth does this mean? It is the key that October 12, 1962, the day when Daddy was written. It is also the day when Ted consented to the divorce with Plath. Although she married with Ted to compensate for her fatherless childhood, she realized that he was also Satan like her dead father.

Plaths life, which ended the suicide, was the best for her? Nobody knows, only Plath knows

References: Nicola Goelzhaeuser, Imagery in Sylvia Plaths Daddy

URL http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Studios/8984/daddy.htm

Hollywood-Kouen/1866/Plaths Poetry

URL http://www.geocities.co.jp/Hollywood-Kouen/1866/Plath/Daddy.html

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