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Sylvia Plath’s Daddy

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Sylvia Plath’s Daddy

The Holocaust has left a very painful and harsh trace in the lives of millions of people, and those who witnessed it at least circuitously would probably never forget the deadly scenes of brutal extermination of Jewish civilians. Sylvia Plath’s poem Daddy is a sorrowful piece of writing, which demonstrates her pain, her lament, and her cry for help through pictures of the Nazi regime and genocide. In reality, however, mantled under the disguise of Hitler and fascism are her father and her husband. Through multiple metaphors, Sylvia Plath depicts these two as her oppressors, who have been gradually ruining her life tenderly in turn. Thus, in her great poem Daddy, Silvia Plath shows her grief caused by oppression from her father, her husband, and the contemporary cultural environment.

As the title of the poem goes – Daddy – this literary work is mainly about her father, who had obviously left her when Plath was still young. After he had left her, he had freed her from the symbolical “black shoe, in which [she had] lived like a foot for thirty years.” In addition, she associates her father with Hitler, saying that she had always been scared of him, and depicting his mustache and Aryan eyes. She had also referred to her father as a brute, which also proves that she had been oppressed by him. However, despite that oppression that she had been experiencing, she still missed him. The author writes, “I used to pray to recover you” and “at twenty I tried to die and get back […] to you.”

Although the title of the poem suggests that she had devoted the poem to her father, Sylvia Plath also addresses her husband in the poem. She describes him as a substitute for her father, who oppresses her as well. Sylvia writes about her husband, “I made a model of you [, father], a man in black with a Meinkampf look.” However, once she is with her husband (agreeing to marry him), the oppressions of her father vanish, as she explains that metaphorically, “And I said I do, I do. So daddy, I'm finally through.” This fact means that her husband frees her from father’s oppressions to start new oppressions of his own. But, obviously this new oppression of her husband is far more painful than that of her father. The author cries, “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.” In this quote the author tries to calm her father down, saying that her husband would continue the oppression even harsher.

The cultural environment of that time has also played a significant role in the poem. Plath is obviously oppressed by the Holocaust and the Nazi regime, “not God but a swastika so black no sky could squeak through. Every woman adores a Fascist, The boot in the face, the brute.” And she continues to blame the society for saving her, saying “but they pulled me out of the sack, and they stuck me together with glue.” She also refers to herself as a Jew, who is a symbol of lament, misery, and pain given the contemporary Nazi ideology.

Ultimately, Sylvia Plath’s poem Daddy reveals her views from inside a cage, a mental imaginary cage in which she had spent her entire life. Her father, her husband, and the society are the ones who had put her in that cage. But her heart seeks freedom desperately, and in this poem she cries about her misery and confinement. The depressed and pessimistic tone of the poem clearly illustrates Plath’s feministic nature, - the emancipated nature that had been violently oppressed and even murdered.…...

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