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Daddy, or Satan?

"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."

I picked this quote because it's such an interesting contrast between the "bag full of God" in the second stanza. Throughout the poem, the speaker refers to her father in increasingly horrific terms, comparing him to a Nazi and a devil and now finally a vampire in the form of another man. The speaker really demonizes the father figure and portrays the way his early death haunted every last bit of her life, including her choice of husband. In putting a "stake in [his] fat black heart", she is able to get rid of the vampiric figure that was draining her life force away.
As I was reading this poem, I found it very hard to separate the poem from what I read about Sylvia Plath in the introduction. It seems pretty obvious that this poem would be about Sylvia Plath's father and her attempt to get rid of the haunting memory of him. That's why it's so interesting that the speaker of this poem really seems to despise her father; the introduction claims that Plath was very attached to her father. The loss of a loved one can have a tyrannical influence over a person's life, though. So although the Nazi references may be connected to Plath's father's German ancestry, I think ultimately these references are more metaphorical than anything else. But is this poem really about killing the memory of the speaker's father, or getting rid of the man in the speaker's life that reminds her of her father--her husband? It seems that the speaker equates the two and behaves as if they are actually the same person. "The vampire who said he was you" has a stake in his heart; even though he is not actually the father figure, the villagers dance and stamp on him, "[knowing] it was" the "you" that is "Daddy, Daddy, you bastard..." Well, a devil can come back and possess another person's soul. This poem is scarier than The Exorcist.

Comments (2)

Alicia Campbell:

I'm glad you chose to look at this quote. I had not really considered the depth of the comparison to a vampire. In the poem, Plath also speaks of trying to die at twenty to get back to her father, which I'm sure is a reference to her attempted suicide. After this unsuccessful attempt, Plath did the next best thing: married a man who reminded her of her father. I think both relationships (father and husband) were fatal attractions. The husband was a vampire who literally sucked the life, or at least what was left of it, out of Plath. Plath may have finally rid herself of these attractions, perhaps only by taking her own life?

Andrew Adams:

I find that this type of connection so strange. What I mean is someone who is apparently abused or obviously treated badly, who finds a connection with that person. This happens a lot in abusive relationships. I feel that the speaker is trying to break the control that her "daddy" had on her, which is a big reason why people stay in abusive relationships.

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