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Daddy Analysis



Author: poem of Sylvia Plath Type: poem Views: 90


You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time ----
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off the beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

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

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene

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 snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gypsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

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 ----

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
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.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
The black telephone's off at the root,
The voices just can't worm through.

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.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There's a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagersnever liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.

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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||




.: :.

A short note:
Plath connected her tough childhood with the sufferings of people post WWW2, and to teach them and get rid of the after math of it.
She through the image of her father and then comparing to Hilter, Nazi, and even mentioning some of the destroyed cities by the cruelty of Nazis, all are to tell the world, that the people are suffering.
She also has mentioned \" Jew\" which they have been killed by Nazis, considered herself to be Jewish because now she is through her cruel husband suffering.
the poem is full of metaphors and images:
1- she through the cruelty of her father and husband will create the image of the Nazi and the sufferings of Jew.
2- The role of Women in society during the 1960, specially in German.
3- Hitler was vampire like her Father and husband.
4- although throughout the poem she cursed her father and hated him, but i guess, because she was just 8 years when he committed suicide because of his sickness and calling him Daddy, she has an affectionate for him and that is why she did not have much suffering and severe time with her time, all just a metaphor to show the world the sufferings of Jew, post WWW2 people and women;s life.
Regards

| Posted on 2012-06-01 | by a guest


.: :.

A short note:
Plath connected her tough childhood with the sufferings of people post WWW2, and to teach them and get rid of the after math of it.
She through the image of her father and then comparing to Hilter, Nazi, and even mentioning some of the destroyed cities by the cruelty of Nazis, all are to tell the world, that the people are suffering.
She also has mentioned \" Jew\" which they have been killed by Nazis, considered herself to be Jewish because now she is through her cruel husband suffering.
the poem is full of metaphors and images:
1- she through the cruelty of her father and husband will create the image of the Nazi and the sufferings of Jew.
2- The role of Women in society during the 1960, specially in German.
3- Hitler was vampire like her Father and husband.
4- although throughout the poem she cursed her father and hated him, but i guess, because she was just 8 years when he committed suicide because of his sickness and calling him Daddy, she has an affectionate for him and that is why she did not have much suffering and severe time with her time, all just a metaphor to show the world the sufferings of Jew, post WWW2 people and women;s life.
Regards

| Posted on 2012-06-01 | by a guest


.: :.

Thank you everyone. When I first read the poem I was like what was that about. All the different analysis really helped me. Thank you. I feel comftable about \"Daddy\" and feel I can now write a good piece.

| Posted on 2012-03-20 | by a guest


.: :.

Hi

Ive been reading this board for a long time but this is the first time I\'ve finally registered and posted.

There\'s a treasure trove of information here but I was wondering about additional resources you use for this type of stuff.

Please list other relevant sites/blogs/forums that you follow

I\'ll go post an intro now!

| Posted on 2012-01-29 | by a guest


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Some of the poem talks about she hating her father for dying and that she replaced him by marring someone like her father, even though that is alittle creepy, she finds her new daddy figure and ends up he also lives her but not by dying. So she is even more mad at her father even though it is all not his fault for what happened to him.

| Posted on 2012-01-18 | by a guest


.: :.

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| Posted on 2012-01-11 | by a guest


.: :.

Firstly thank you very much very helpfull.
(I am studying Plath for GCSE)
Just a quick thing: the death of her father was taunting Sylvia, eating away at her, every day, which led to her death. Plath has always had a childish view towards her fathers death, in the way that her father almost commited suicide, as he could have survived if he had got medical attention earlier.
Thanks again

| Posted on 2011-11-07 | by a guest


.: :.

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| Posted on 2011-10-30 | by a guest


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argh! if she said her father past away at ten, which he did by the way,then she is right - not you. What? you think you know Plaths fathers death better than Plath herself?

| Posted on 2011-05-21 | by a guest


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i am currently writing a project on sylvia and i have decieded to include an essay analysing his poem any help but greatfully accepted, any other recomendations wold aslo be greatly appricated
many thanks
Ellie .

| Posted on 2011-04-24 | by a guest


.: :.

The poem Daddy is a cathartic text which reveals to us the nature of the persona\'s relationship with her father as well as the impact that her father\'s death had on her. Being a confessional poem, we can assume that it is about Plath herself. The purpose of this poem is so that Plath can purge herself of her emotions as she feels abandoned by her father after his death. The very title gives away the fact that Plath\'s emotional growth has been stunted and that she feels like an abandoned child.

| Posted on 2011-03-09 | by a guest


.: :.

The poem Daddy is a cathartic text which reveals to us the nature of the persona\'s relationship with her father as well as the impact that her father\'s death had on her. Being a confessional poem, we can assume that it is about Plath herself. The purpose of this poem is so that Plath can purge herself of her emotions as she feels abandoned by her father after his death. The very title gives away the fact that Plath\'s emotional growth has been stunted and that she feels like an abandoned child.

| Posted on 2011-03-09 | by a guest


.: :.

I think daddy refer to all men. Nazi refers to men, and Jew refers to women. \"model of you\" refers to Ted. She is disappointed or tired of all men.

| Posted on 2011-02-16 | by a guest


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I think in this poem she is talking about god, comparing the events to her fathers death...god like hitler as when her father died sylvia had turned into an athiest and she said \'i will never talk to god again\' she compares hitlers killing people to the devil and this compatision goes to the extent that if he is her dad..she is talking to him as he is the known devil who ruled the world. When she talks about her wedding ring and soap they are like just there, part of her life, she is facing them but they dont hold any significant meaning to her life.

| Posted on 2011-02-01 | by a guest


.: :.

When I analyze the poem. I get more details about the war and Hitler and the Holocaust, than her own father and husband. She says she buried him at ten years old, even though we all know that her father died when she was eight years old. I claim that she is referencing Hitler in that stanza, becuase when she was ten, that was the year 1942. In 1942 was when the turning point occured in the war, and Germany never regained their lead. The Allies buried the victory run, the powerful undefeatable personality of the Nazis, and their dignity. The whole poem can be referenced in some way back to Germany and the war.

| Posted on 2010-12-06 | by a guest


.: :.

Who’s your daddy? Assia Wevill influence on Sylvia Plath’s poetry.
There is little argument that Ted Hughes’s infidelities had a profound affect on Sylvia Plath’s poetry. Many of her most powerful and personal poems were written during their relationships’ most turbulent periods. Nowhere is this more evident than in the last months leading up to her tragic suicide in February 1963. Just prier to her death Ted Hughes had made the decision in early October to leave their North Tawton home in Devon and live with his mistress Assia Wevill.
By November, consumed within an emotional maelstrom of anger, humiliation, and vengeance, Plath completed her final opus. This volume of forty poems published posthumously under the title “Ariel” comprise many of her most memorable works including “Daddy”, “Morning Song”, “Tulips”, and “Lady Lazarus”.
Of these, “Daddy” is recognized as one her most personal, and controversial poems. In giving some insight into the inner meaning behind “Daddy” Plath had this to say about her speaker’s psyche, “The poem is spoken by a girl with an Electra complex. Her father died while she thought he was a God. Her case is complicated by the fact that her father was also a Nazi and her mother very possibly part Jewish. In the daughter the two strains marry and paralyze each other – she has to act out the awful little allegory before she is free of it” (Wagner 124).
Plath’s calm and analytical critique of the speaker and character referred to as “Daddy” offers no hint of the pre-dawn rage and resentment in which those personas was shaped; Nor does Plath adequately explain her sudden and abrupt use of Holocaust imagery as a metaphoric tool for her life-long feelings of insecurity, rejection, and anger.
When reading “Daddy” one finds numerous similarities between the speaker of the poem and Plath’s own personal life, “I was ten when they buried you. / At twenty I tried to die”/ (58, 59) But they pulled me out of the sack, / And they put me together with glue.” (62, 63) These phrases clearly references Plath’s suicide attempt and subsequent therapy.
A few examples illustrating her father’s influence include such phrases as, “You died before I had time. (7) / I was ten when they buried you. (58) / Ghastly statue with one gray toe.” (9) At the age of eight, Plath’s father died of gangrene, which started in his toe eventually resulting in his leg being amputated. Echo’s of Ted Hughes can also been seen throughout poem with such unflattering comparisons to a vampire (73), a fascist (49), her father (65), and a Nazi (66).
“Daddy” has been widely interpreted as both an autobiographical and confessionalist piece. This practiced of mirroring various aspects of her personal life were not uncommon is Plath’s writing style and can be seen in many of her poems.
However, neither of her brief and tumultuous relationships with her father, (eight years) or her husband, (eight years) sufficiently explains her abrupt use of Holocaust imagery.
When specifically questioned about the ethical and moral issues regarding her use of such imagery Plath stated:
“…I must say that I cannot sympathize with these cries from the heart that are informed by nothing except a needle and a knife, or whatever it is. I believe that one should be able to control and manipulate experiences, even the most terrifying, like madness, being tortured, this sort of experience, and one should be able to manipulate these experiences with an informed and intelligent mind. I think personal experience is very important, but certainly it shouldn’t be a shut–box and mirror-looking, narcissistic experience. I believe it should be relevant, and to the larger things, the bigger things such as Hiroshima and Dachau and so on.” (Wagner 90-91)
Though Plath appears to put forth a valid argument to support her use of the horrors of Nazi death camps as a metaphor for her own suffering. The timing of her use of such imagery leads one to question her true motivation. As with a majority of post war Americans, Plath was well aware of the Nazi atrocities. However it was not until the winter of 1962, long after her suicide attempt, psychiatric hospitalization, and electroshock treatments that Plath was compelled to compare her experiences to that of a Holocaust victim. Employing such phrases as “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.”(33-36)
The key in unraveling the imagery question is not to focus so much on the why, but instead focus on whom. It appears that “Daddy” was written with a single individual in mind. Someone who Plath had known intimately, and most suffered from many of the same insecurities and fears that plagued Plath all through her life.
In addition, this individual would also have shared her intense completive edge and a strong desire to please. The most likely individual who met these requirements was Assia Wevill, the beautiful and talented Jewish mistress of Ted Hughes.
Inserting Assia Wevill into the “Daddy” equation provides a fresh perspective into Plath’s psyche during the last months of her life. Instead of “Daddy” being interpreted as an anthem for female liberation in which the speaker ultimately purges her male dominate figures from her life. “Daddy” transforms into a more ominous narrative, one, which is almost prophetic in nature. As if the speaker has some inner knowledge of what the future holds for Assia Wevill. “With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck/And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack.” (39-40)
In the next line the speaker seems to be comparing herself to Assia, “I may be a bit of a Jew”(41) ultimately the speaker becomes Assia, “I began to talk like a Jew. /I think I may well be a Jew.” (35, 36) There are numerous other phrases, which support this argument, but the following two examples are unique in that they have either been ignored or misinterpreted in previous critiques. The first occurs in the fourth stanza “But the name of the town is common./My Polack friend/Says there are a dozen or two” (19-21). Here the speaker seems to use the pejorative “Polack” to address a friend. Upon closer examination the definition of “Polack” also means a Russian Pole, or Czech that deals in the Jewess slave trade.
In stanza fourteen a possible reference to the illicit telephone conversations between Hughes and Assia is exposed, “The black telephone off at the root, /The voices just can’t worm through.”(70, 71)
It seems oblivious that Plath, Hughes and Wevill directly influenced “Daddy”. As to the extent of their influence, that is a question that may never be answered. However we may find a clue if we look towards geometry, all side are equally important in a triangle.

| Posted on 2010-12-06 | by a guest


.: :.

This poem symbolises the union of Plath\'s emotion as she targets her hatred towards her father. I believe that the Nazi iconography shows her hatred towards the Judiah empire and her wish for all non white races to be quelled in their uprising. Often Plath\'s poetry lets slip her hidden links to the major chapters of the infamous KKK however she tries to cover this up through use of melancholy and emotive language. Now if you question my opinion then you are just as close minded as the poet you are over analysing.
James Purnell

| Posted on 2010-11-30 | by a guest


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hahaha how do we even know that the above analysis are right?

| Posted on 2010-11-22 | by a guest


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I think this is a fantastic poem and I really love the way she says about her making a puppet and the vampire bit because I think she is referencing her Ex-husband, Ted Hughs.

| Posted on 2010-11-21 | by a guest


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great poem. reflects sylvia plath anger and wrath about her father past which is hers too

| Posted on 2010-10-19 | by a guest


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The poem is about a young woman struggling to rid hereself of domination by the memory of her dead father. Se has to "kill" him again, in her mind, to free hereslfe from his obsessive image.

| Posted on 2010-06-25 | by a guest


.: :.

I thought I'd be helpful and translate some of the german in the poem.
Ach du - Oh you (15)
Ich, ich, ich, ich, - I, I, I, I, (27)
Luftwaffe - German Air force (42)
Panzer-man - 'Panzer' were German tanks in WWII (45)
Meinkampf - literally translates to 'My fight'or 'My struggle' but that was the title of Adolf Hitler's autobiography (along with a few of his political ideals thrown in)(65)
hope this helps!

| Posted on 2010-05-23 | by a guest


.: :.

thx so much ,, really i got benefit from ur comments and analysis of this brilliant poem ^^

| Posted on 2010-04-26 | by a guest


.: :.

Thank you all, the analysis for the site was very informative and VERY Helpful.

| Posted on 2010-03-03 | by a guest


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This site has been very helpful. I am now able to analyze Plath's poem for myself. I love how this can be criticized from several different viewpoints. I think I'm going to take a psychoanalytical approach on this poem and talk about her mental state. I might add some marxist criticism and talk about her oppressed feelings compared to the opression imposed by the Nazis.

| Posted on 2010-02-17 | by a guest


.: :.

That was very intersting. It led you on, made you want to read more and find out what really happened. This is a bad or dark poem. It has death and anger in the text that you can feel when reading it.
Lauren.

| Posted on 2010-02-10 | by a guest


.: :.

I have to write an essay on how plath uses the nazi/jew symbolism to discuss gender issues. This is gibberish to me. Can someone point me in the right direction?

| Posted on 2010-01-31 | by a guest


.: :.

I only have time for a very bried analysis and i will concerntrate on themes and metaphores.
Colour is very important to Plath as you see reading through her poetry, another good poem for colour would be "The Applicant". The colour black often represents oppression and constraint which seems fitting then, to be used in conjunction with the shoe in which she has lived, as this could refer to an opressive society as it was during the time of Nazi rule, it could also refer to her relatiobship with her father who she describes as fascist, modern forms of fascism of course being very much constraining. It is also used when talking about the telephone which is "off at the root", implying a voicelessness "The voices just can't worm through". The persona earlier in the poem feels an almost voicelessness, certainly an inability to speak "the tongue stuck in my jaw". Perhaps the black telephone cut off at the root is symbolising that the oppressive nature of the fathers voice, due to his death, can no longer be heard, however i wouldn't directly link the black telephone to death as white is often representative of death for Plath.
The post apocolyptic imagery of body parts strewn throughout the poem again seems to fit well as Plath deals with the topic of Nazism, not only do the body parts lend them selves fittingly to the theme of constraint "black shoe\ In which i have lived like a foot" but it also recreates the images we all have of bodies piled at concerntration camps and the collections of glasses, gold teeth and hair collected at such places. Plath's writings are definately not for the faint hearted.
I believe the topic of her father is quite an obvious one and so don't feel any need to discuss it, i do however think it's genius how through describing the relationship with her father, she manages to engage such topics as genocide, freedom of speech "I could hardly speak" which of course was true for the jews, and ties together (without saying the two were equally as terrible in a real sense) her constraint with that of Nazi Germany.
A brilliant poem.

| Posted on 2010-01-28 | by a guest


.: :.

I find the lines "So daddy, I'm finally through. The black telephone's off at the root, The voices just can't worm through." very powerfull. They convey that yes, she was possessed, but not now. She has cut herself off, the voices cant worm their way up the old fashioned spiraled telephone cable into her head anymore.

| Posted on 2010-01-27 | by a guest


.: :.

thanks for the hlp every one! im also doing an english assignment and found a few of these very helpful! thanks again!

| Posted on 2010-01-20 | by a guest


.: :.

Just had a teacher tell us that the Nazi references in Daddy are a metaphor for womens' rights. Huh? Seems wrong to equate genocide with womens' rights.

| Posted on 2010-01-12 | by a guest


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Poor and white meaning what? How do you analyse that? Im doing an essay for english and I'm clueless on that phrase?

| Posted on 2010-01-12 | by a guest


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This site was really helpfull,im doing a report on sylvia,and wanted to read this poem because EVERY source talked about it.thanks for putting this up

| Posted on 2009-12-09 | by a guest


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Plath expresses the angst of "the lost generation"{g.STEIN} as well as the lack of parental directions in a subtle way in several other poems , of which mention must be made of "The Moon and the Yew Tree" . The suffering and the panorama of disaster that this generation visualised in form of the two wars reminds of what the chorus said in "Oedipus":"call no man fortunate that is not dead,the dead are free from pain"

| Posted on 2009-11-27 | by a guest


.: :.

Just a quick note- I think it's very important to remember to distinguish between germans and nazi's...There was an entire generation of German students in the 1960's who had a conflict with their parent generation. This generation of students was known as the '68ers', and they were often very angered at the fact that resolution and closure to Germany's nazi past was never really addressed by their parent generation and was merely swept under the carpet. Perhaps Plath could be referring to this generation and the common sentiment at the time

| Posted on 2009-10-25 | by a guest


.: :.

Just a quick note- I think it's very important to remember to distinguish between germans and nazi's...There was an entire generation of German students in the 1960's who had a conflict with their parent generation. This generation of students was known as the '68ers', and they were often very angered at the fact that resolution and closure to Germany's nazi past was never really addressed by their parent generation and was merely swept under the carpet. Perhaps Plath could be referring to this generation and the common sentiment at the time

| Posted on 2009-10-24 | by a guest


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Sylvia Plath can really let you feel all her emotions even if you don't really understand what she is saying. I fell like sticking my head inside an oven when i read some of her great poems.

| Posted on 2009-10-23 | by a guest


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thanks because of this site, i came from malaysia and i am a astudent. i study bout the poem and this site help me lots. thank you.

| Posted on 2009-09-12 | by a guest


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THis was so helpful. im currently studying the HSC and this information was very benificial! :) thanks so much!

| Posted on 2009-09-07 | by a guest


.: :.

Although dark and sad, some have suggested that the last line of the poem marks some sort of resolve as she strongly concludes; daddyim through. I think that its often daunting and depressing reading Plaths poetry, but the pure brilliant of these beautifully ugly images in the poem, concluding with these perfectly placed lines, represents a resolve of the conflicts between different images throughout the poem. But as for the resolving of the real conflicts in her life, it is near on impossible that if someone was unable to stop grieving after 20 years, how can a poem written about it all, suddenly cure you?! And the fact that she killed herself is also a bit of give away that she didnt resolve her issues with her depression and the ghosts of her past.

| Posted on 2009-04-08 | by a guest




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Poetry 78
Poetry 145
Poetry 193
Poetry 103
Poetry 202