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Sylvia Plath's Poem, Daddy

In Sylvia PlathÆs memorial to her father, ôDaddy,ö the speaker demonstrates a great hatred toward her father. Plath (p. 112) ends her poem with ôDaddy, daddy, you bastard, IÆm through.ö Despite this sentiment, it can also be seen that the poem is actually also PlathÆs feminist critique of the dominating, controlling and hurtful position of males in society, both fathers and husbands. Her speaker maintains she is ôthroughö with her ôdaddy,ö but in reality the anger and animosity expressed toward her father can only stem from someone who also deeply loves their father. Plath (p. 110) uses ôfreakishö to define the Atlantic Ocean, an ocean that can be eerily calm or wildly turbulent. As Srivastava (p. 127) suggests, this description is ôsymbolic of PlathÆs own attitude toward her father, no hostile, no friendly.ö As such, ôDaddyö may read like a poem of hatred but it is actually a poem born of both love and hate.

The love of the speaker for her father is barely noticeable in the poem ôDaddy,ö except for the fact we seldom reserve such hatred for someone like the father described unless we loved them once very much. The speaker is older now and looking back at her relationship with her father. The speak of the poems tells the reader, ôI never could talk to youö (Plath, p. 110). We are also told of her hatred for her fatherÆs German ancestry, one that causes her to fear her father and depict him in the worst terms, ôI have always been scare of you,à / A man in black with a Meinkampf look / And a love of the rack and the screwö (Plath, p. 111). PlathÆs speaker appears to hate this man, his appearance and his demeanor, yet we are told ôI said I do, I doö (Plath, p. 111). The speaker may hate her father but it is because of his controlling and dominating demeanor, one she tried but could never talk to or get close to in the way typical fathers and daughters do. The ôI do, I do,


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Sylvia Plath's Poem, Daddy. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:13, April 21, 2019, from