American poet Sylvia Plath wrote “Daddy” poem in 1962. The poem is often debated with conflicting conclusions. The importance and popularity of the poem "Daddy" can be explained by Plath's application of metaphors, subtle wordplay, symbols and bright imagery in the text of the poem.
The "Daddy" poem is considered Plath’s best work. It is easy to understand her true feelings towards her father. Through symbols and metaphors S. Plath pictures many situations that led her to hating her own father. Despite all her negative feelings, she never found any courage to say about her hate since she was too afraid of him during all her childhood. The poem continues that it was very unfortunate that her father died so early and she never had enough time for the revenge. She even married a man with a similar character in order to avenge her father.
Imagery, used in the poem, demonstrates various aspects of the writer’s attitude to her father. S. Plath uses bright images devil, vampire, Nazi and God throughout the poem. Her sophisticated combination of wordplay and imagery illustrates powerful negative emotions and gives clear reasons for her desire of the revenge.
The poem opens with the feeling of a victim, the writer had. She makes her father seem scary. Another metaphor compares her father to a shoe in which she lives. The comparison of her father to God, “a bag full of God / ghastly statue with one gray toe” (Plath,8-9) is very powerful. The lines 9-11 make the father seem huge. S. Plath uses the metaphor of enormous statue to portray her father. It is so big that it stretches across the entire United States!
The writer even had doubts whether they belong to the same family. Their relationship was difficult, she felt oppressed by her father. S. Plath compares her suffering to the concentration camps , where the Jews were killed during the Nazi regime in Germany. “A Jew, to Dachau,” (Plath, 29). Although it is not said plainly, the figurative language is used within this metaphor. (Plath, 29-35)The train engine is a metaphor for the German language, which her father speaks. The train takes her to a concentration camp, like it happened to the Jews during the Holocaust. This metaphor is one of the brightest to describe her feeling of her father’s victim.
She felt absolutely trapped and overwhelmed with hate. The feeling led to rejection of the German language, it was considered harsh and obscene. It meant everything that her father used to be. The only way for the writer to picture the evil associated with her father was grotesque imagery and bright metaphors.
Another bright image is "Luftwaffe", translated air force from German. The word refers to the German air force that took part in World War II. Her metaphorical incrimination implies that the her Dad was in German air force, S. Plath does not make him a Nazi straight away. The symbolism is used to develop her father’s character further. (Plath, 43-44) The “neat mustache” is a direct reference to Hitler's mustache. In addition, bright blue Aryan eyes refer ideal race of people Nazi adored. The German word "Panzermen," that means soldiers who drove tanks adds to "Luftwaffe" reference, portrays the father as a Nazi. Line 47 is a great hyperbole, extreme exaggeration, the swastika is another image associated to her father. But it not just black swastika, it enormously black and blots out the sky.
S. Path tells that her father died when she was too young to give him a lesson, “I was ten when they buried you,”(Plath, 48) So, she found an opportunity of a revenge in a marriage with a man resembling her father. Their similarities of character are found in these lines, “I knew what to do / made a model of you” (Plath, 54-55). Killing her husband would bring the same pleasure as killing her father. In line 65 the writer moves from connecting her father to the Nazis to comparing the father’s model, her husband, to Hitler. Mein Kampf , written by Hitler, is a strong reference to Nazi.
Another strong metaphor used to describe the evil character of her husband and her father is vampire. The writer says that her husband took seven years for drinking her blood, “the vampire / drank my blood” (Plath,63-64). The thought is further developed in lines 76-79. The vampire metaphor is used to the father himself. He died like a vampire, from a stake that went through his heart. The writer felt that both men, who tortured her, were so similar that it was enough murder one to revenge both. “I have killed one man, I have killed two” (Plath, 62). Only death of the husband gave a feeling of the victory. The symbols S. Plath used in “Daddy” poem expressed the feeling of great hate the writer felt towards her father.
Strong speech expressed negative emotions of the writer. The words she chooses bring all the hate out clearly. S. Plath employed numerous stylistic tools to express her emotions. The main theme in this poem is an enormous hate felt towards the father. Another theme that clearly comes out is the fear she felt in the childhood. Although the way S. Plath chooses to revenge her father, killing her husband, is not acceptable, the great pity is still the main feeling brought by the poem. “Daddy” is very powerful poem. The effect of emotional compassion is reached through imagery, symbolism and wordplay.