I have always been fascinated by Daddy, the poem written by Sylvia Plath. Daddy is a poem that was created in one of her worst depressive moments and it shows clearly how she felt, what she thought about her father Otto Plath.
Otto Plath was born on November 6th, 1880 in Grabow (Germany). He had a sister and a brother, both of them younger than him. He went to school where he learned the basics of teaching. In 1904 Otto graduated from the University of Breslau (Germany) as a teacher and three years later he moved to America together with his wife Martha (*). Once there, they settled first in Boston and then in Wellesley (a town close to Boston), where their two children were born: Warren (1907-1982) and Sylvia (1932-1963).
Sylvia Plath’s poem Daddy is about her feelings toward her father which seem to be complicated and conflicting. The poem begins with “Daddy, Daddy, / I have had to kill you. ” She has killed her father because he never did anything for her; he did not support or protect her like she needed him to do. This seems like a strange way of thinking about one’s own father until it is taken into account that the speaker of the poem was the daughter of Otto Plath, who committed suicide when his daughter was merely eight years old .
After this occurs, Sylvia Plath never sees her father again because he has died. Daddy is an example of the psychological phenomenon which is called identification with the aggressor . The speaker in Daddy (Sylvia Plath) experiences many feelings towards her father (her aggressor). One side of how she feels about him seems to be anger and resentment; she writes, “I have had to kill you. ” Another aspect of how Plath feels about her father seems to be simultaneously pitying and sympathetic; she writes, “(you died before I had time).
There are also elements of gratitude (“You died before I had time / To call you anything but Daddy”) as well as the suffering that comes after losing a parent at such a young age. Having lost her father, Plath understands her mother’s pain and can even relate to it (“I made your faults / Into a little song. “) Daddy is about the speaker of the poem, but it also seems like Daddy is about Sylvia Plath herself. The poem Daddy could be seen as an act of catharsis , which means that the work (the poem Daddy) brings out emotions that were previously unexpressed or repressed.
This would make sense because Daddy was written in 1962 while Plath was in the midst of creating Ariel , a collection of poetry which was published posthumously . One important aspect to take into account when interpreting Daddy by Sylvia Plath is the title. It should be noted that Sylvia Plath does not mention ‘daddy’ in the poem at all; she uses ‘Daddy. ‘ Daddy is capitalized, which could indicate that Daddy (capitalization) is not an actual person’s name, but rather a reference.
Daddy (capitalization) most likely refers to Otto Plath, Sylvia Plath’s father who committed suicide when she was merely eight years old . Now that Daddy (Otto Plath) has died, Daddy (symbol for Otto Plath) will never be able to offer her protection or love like she really needed him to do. This may be why Daddy is killed in the poem in order “To call you anything but Daddy. ” Sylvia Plath seems to have conflicting feelings towards her father. She hated him for abandoning her and killing himself, but also pitied and identified with him because he committed suicide.
Daddy (symbol for Otto Plath) deserted the speaker of the poem, which leaves Sylvia Plath without a father and therefore needing someone to fill that role; Daddy (symbol for anyone who can become her father figure) is killed “To call you anything but Daddy. ” The speaker of Daddy may feel as though she must kill Daddy because having Daddy around means that she has to face what happened or might happen again (i. e. , Daddy leaving her like he did).
Having faced those events already, the speaker of Daddy understands things more clearly; Daddy can be killed (“I have had to kill you”) in order to keep those events from occurring another time. Sylvia Plath uses the name Daddy in order to symbolize Otto Plath, who abandoned and left his daughter when she was just a little girl. Daddy is not mentioned by name until the fourth stanza, where it becomes clear that Daddy is meant to represent Sylvia’s father. Daddy also represents any man who would or could potentially abandon such a young girl (leaving her with no one to protect her).
In this poem, daddy is seen as a metaphor for anyone who might abandon such a young girl; Daddy can be replaced with “any other” man because these men are interchangeable in the speaker’s mind. This lack of empathy and respect shown towards men represent how much paternal influence has hurt women, and speaks to the common misogynistic views in our society today. Most critics acknowledge that Daddy is an autobiographical poem like many of Plath’s most famous poems, most notably “Lady Lazarus. Daddy takes the form of elegy, which means it is about death and/or loss.
It can be understood as a personal elegy for her own father (Otto Plath) or perhaps about anyone who has died (especially important figures like President John F. Kennedy, whom she addresses in “Lady Lazarus”), but Daddy also seems to be concerned with an impending apocalypse; because of this interpretation, Daddy can also be seen as a poem about world events. Daddy contains references to the Holocaust and the destruction caused by World War II (the bombings at Nagasaki and Hiroshima).
Daddy also has many religious connotations; Daddy can be interpreted as a Christ figure and the speaker of Daddy as a modern day Jesus. Daddy is supposed to reassure its readers (or listeners) that there is redemption for those who kill Daddy (whoever they might be). The opening line, “You do not do, you do not do / Any more, black shoe” begins with the speaker addressing Daddy directly about an unspecified action; she accuses him of not doing anything anymore. She makes this claim after stating that he does nothing but kick around (“There’s only/A hundredweight-load/Of candy bars in cellophane”).