Mixed Emotions

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Plath, whose father died when she was only eight, carried a heavy weight of abandonment and depression that was translated into her work. She is even quoted as saying "I adored and despised him." These feelings are obvious in many of her poems, but most evident in her poem entitled "Daddy." Her love for him is reflected in the first few stanzas. She refers to the narrator (herself most likely) as a foot and her father as the protective shoe. In the following stanza, she refers to him as a God-like figure reflecting the childhood awe she still possesses of her father. Though she does not go so far as to call him God, he symbolizes an all-knowing presence. Plath's tone becomes bitter at this point when she acknowledges his God-like status in her mind, and yet he has died. She then introduces the idea that the narrator is a Jew going to a concentration camp and her father is a Nazi soldier during the Holocaust. Her father becomes portrayed in increasingly worse manners as he is transformed into the Devil himself. The success of Plath's poem, however, was not her depiction of her own emotions but in her ability to communicate these feelings to the audience on an emotional and psychological level. This ability is not reflected on in "Daddy," but in all her poetry. The influence of her father's memory is also present in much of her poetry such as "The Arrival of the Bee Box" and "Child."

 

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL267/2009/03/poetry_selections_plath_blog_b/

3 Comments

Carlos Peredo said:

One of the things that struck me was how centered Plath was around her Father. If we assume that he died when she was eight and she only has strong memories from when she was three, then it seems as though her father would only have been around for a small amount of her life. He must have been quite a character to have left such powerful and yet conflicting impressions upon her that they would last many times as long as he had to leave them.

Aja Hannah said:

Perhaps she is so centered around him because she missed him as a father. Not that she has strong memories, but she created some or yearned after any memory that she had of him. She may have obsessed and substituted ideas of what he was like if she was really that young.

Maybe that is also why he is in so many of her poems because she wants to know him and like Plat and these other poets's writing styles are described, Plath may have used her writing as a way of therapy or "confessional."

Christopher Dufalla said:

I found myself relating the poem's father figure to Plath's father, but then I thought that perhaps it was only a blueprint of her father. What if she had constructed a mental sketch of her father, since she was only eight when he died. Having built up the various ideas, Plath could have been lashing out against old fashioned fathers, fathers in general, or perhaps those that left their children either divorce-wise or through death. The biography made note that her mother was more of a figure for diliking. Yet, I do think that PLath's own father was at the very least the blueprint for this poem.

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