Dad, Not Daddy

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"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."

It seems to me that Plath makes the narrator a daughter who, at first, adores her father and is bitter when he dies. Now, the daughter is reflecting on her father for who he really is and who she thought he was.

At the quote that I pulled out above, I thought of something interesting. Is Plath suggesting that the author admired her (abusive?) father so much that she went in search of someone similar to him that she would marry. The words "I do, I do" certainly seem to suggest this.

Is the narrator like daughters who come from unstable relationships with their dads and, commonly, find men that treat them the same way. It seems the narrator here blames many of her choices in life on her father.

What is also odd to me is that she still addresses him as "Daddy"? Is that her childishness showing through? Or is she using it ironically? Why not use something less personal, more grown up like Father or Dad? I think Plath uses the word Daddy here to symbolize that the narrator has actually not moved on yet from idolizing her father or, at least, that because of her past the narrator has difficulty growing up and, therefore, moving on.

Sylvia Plath Assignment

3 Comments

Andrew Adams said:

I could see that sort of regressive behavior in the speaker. Especially in the one stanza, which reads

"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."

This stanza voices the opinion that women like to be controlled, and even implies that they like to be abused physically.

As for the word daddy, I feel it is being used ironically. She builds up the habit of calling him daddy almost lovingly, and ends with
"Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through."

Juli Banda said:

I like that you brought up that she may have married someone who was like her father. I mentioned it in my blog briefly about her having a husband. The stanza that starts
""If I've killed one man, I've killed two ----"
suggests that she resents her (ex?)husband as well.

As far as the calling him Daddy goes, I wondered the same thing. It seems like she almost slips in and out of being a child and and adult. She sometimes slips into a childlike repetition such as "You do not, you do not" and "Daddy, daddy, you bastard." This still does not really answer why she uses daddy, but I hope it helps a little.

Josie Rush said:

I definitely thought that she used Daddy a little ironically. It was really effective for me...It made the whole thing kind a bit creepy as well.
I also thought about her marrying someone like her father. She does say "every woman loves a facist." And she did have more than enough trouble from her unfaithful husband, Ted Hughes.

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