Analysis of “Daddy”


Many women in today’s culture find themselves in a situation of male domination. Although Sylvia Plath wrote her poem “Daddy” in the 1960’s she faced many of the same problems women still face today. The speaker in this poem is Sylvia Plath. This poem is written in stanzas of five lines and is full of powerful imagery and rhyme schemes.


The tone of this poem is an adult who is in anguish and is outraged. This outrage, at times, slips into the expressions of a child. This is apparent by Plath\'s frequent use of the word daddy and the childlike repetition "You do not do, you do not do" (line 1-2) and "Daddy, daddy, you bastard" (line 80). She uses expressions that sound like the vocabulary of a child "a barb wire snare" (line 26) "I have always been scared of you” (line41). Throughout the poem Plath incorporates many different elements to reveal her negative attitude towards men especially those in her life such as her father. The conflict of this poem is male authority and control versus the freedom woman should possess to be who she is, to make her own choices, and be free from male domination.


In lines 2-3 “Any more black shoe, In which I have lived like a foot.” Plath uses the illustration of feet and black shoes in hopes to reveal the picture of her relationship with her father. The feet here symbolize hers, she in this case is the foot while her father is the shoe, a shoe, which she is bounded and trampled by, but cannot escape. The color black is here to represent another portion of the image about the relationship she has with her father. Black is a symbol of death therefore since the shoe that is oppressing her is black, it could be assumed the black shoe is killing her.
Strong imagery is conveyed throughout this poem. In lines 8-10 “Marble-heavy, a bag full of God, Ghastly statue with one gray toe, Bug as a Frisco seal.” Plath is portraying her father as a figure one made up of marble. Marble is cold and hard and when in the form of a statue, that could be a replica of the person, life-less, an image of death. There is a communication hurdle that Plath illustrates using another symbol in lines 22-26 “So I could never tell where you put your foot, your root. I could never talk to you. The tongue stuck in my jaw. It stuck in a barb wire snare.” These lines are important in revealing another aspect of her relationship with her father, she is saying that out of fear she was unable to speak or even utter the smallest sound.


In lines 43-45 “And your neat moustache and your Aryan eye, bright blue.” By comparing her father to Hitler, the speaker creates a parallel in that Hitler was responsible for the lives and deaths of so many Jews. By comparing herself to a Jew and her father to Hitler, it allows the reader to see how the speaker believed her life was like growing up with a father, a man who caused her to live in fear and anguish.


In lines 56-57 “A stake in your fat black heart” and “drank my blood for a year, the vampire that said he was you” and the line “I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two.” These images of her father express how she saw him as someone that only cause harm and pain to her. When she says she has killed two men she is referring to her husband and her father because she married a man that is as controlling and domineering as her father. Metaphorically the persona describes how her life was being shattered as a result of a marriage, one that could be compared to how a vampire feeds off the blood of their victims.


In lines 61-62 “But they pulled me out of the sack, And they stuck me together with glue,” by doing some research on the life of Plath, this image is one of truth. She was speaking about her suicide attempt and how she was “glued back together” is an example of her treatment.


Towards the end of the