Cut Analysis – Jesika

Cut was written in 1962, during this time Plath was in deep depression. This poem could very well be a reflection of how she felt at that time. The self-destructive behavior that is portrayed here contributed to her suicide attempts.

The structure of this poem is such that every line is only a few words long. This makes the lines seem more important and also maintain the tone of urgency throughout the poem.

“What a thrill, my thumb instead of an onion”  -These make the cut seem very accidental. The diction thrill tells us that speaker seems to be fascinated by the cut. Sarcastic tone here shows an unexpected calmness.
“The top quite is gone, except for a sort of a hinge” – Since the imagery here compares her cut to a hinge of the door, this means that cut is a form of escape. A doorway to parallel universe, perhaps. The hints us the theme of escapism in the poem. This however does not make the cut seem accidental.

“Dead white then that red plush” The description of cut seems clam compared to the other references, almost like a photo. This helps the reader to imagine the scene.

“Little pilgrim, the Indian’s axed your scalp ” – This is an historical allusion. Reference to war. This imagery portrays spirituality(x-gruesome image) lost in contemporary society(war). Or scalping could refer to her thumb, since scalping was a very bloody process.

“Clutching my bottle Of pink fizz. A celebration, this is.” Refers to her thumb as a bottle, which indicates the amount of blood being let out. The word celebration gives us another hint of sarcasm.

“Out of a gap A million soldiers run, Redcoats, every one.” Another historical allusion. Soldiersrefer to American civil war against the British, the redcoats. Her blood cells are metaphorically compared to the redcoats, rushing out of the gap in her skin.

“Homunculus, I am ill”  means tiny human. So relating it with little pilgrim. Because white and little, thumb, detached .. so now as tiny. “I am ill” hints her mental instability.

“I have taken a pill to kill The thin Papery feeling.” Plath, deliberately ends the stanza at “kill”. This could show possible suicidal thoughts. However, taking enjambment into consideration, we see that Plath has taken a painkiller to heal herself.

“Saboteur, Kamikaze man” She has sabotaged her own safety, and has damaged herself. She feels guilty of mutilating herself, even though it might be an accident.

“The stain on your Gauze Ku Klux Klan Babushka” tells us that the stain of blood on the gauze is similar to a terrorist organisation’s stain. Babushka is a headscarf, this could create an image of how the wound had been dressed.

“Pulp of your heart, confronts its small, mill of silence”. now a heart would never stop beating until it stops.  so this could hazard (small mill of silence) could refer to the heart that stopped beating – to death.

Final line “Dirty girl, thumb stump” shows that the narrator is quite disgusted by what she has done. At the end of the poem however, the thrill and joy of cutting her thumb is replaced by a feeling of helplessness when the narrator realizes the pain, to be in control has not helped her. She was worse than before. 

The tone changes hugely throughout this poem. At the beginning of the poem when Plath cut her thumb she is thrilled, this shown by the type of words she uses. For example Plath wrote, “What a thrill—-my thumb instead of an onion.” and, “Clutching my bottle of pink fizz. A celebration, this is.” But as the poem progresses Plath seems to realise what she’s done to herself and the tone changes into self hate. This is shown clearly by the lines, “Saboteur, kamikaze man—-” and also, “How you jump—-trepanned veteran, dirty  girl, thumb stump.”

 

These historical allusions and imageries are all violent and have to do with war. The battle, I believe is between the narrator and her depression.  The poem could be a metaphor for pain caused by mutilating oneself. 

Surprisingly this gruesome poem was dedicated to Susan O’Neil Roe as a welcome gesture. Since Susan and Plath bonded pretty well, this could be Plath expressing her sorrow to Susan.  

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A Commentary on the first 30 lines of Lady Lazarus

This poem is written in first person, as we can see from the first line itself, which says, “I have done it again”. Since Sylvia Plath is known for her confessional style of poetry, we can assume that the speaker in this poem is Plath herself.

In the first 30 lines of this poem, there are ten stanzas with three lines each, also known as tercets. The length of the tercets as well as the lines is for most part, shorter than the complete sentences. This could be to demonstrate the importance of every sentence, seeing as the shorter and more succinct it is, the more forceful and effective it will be. Enjambment has also been used here in several instances, and this helps draw attention to certain words, and increases the dramatic impact and the theatricality of the poem as a whole.

As a matter of fact, this poem seems to take the form of a dramatic monologue, since the speaker, Plath, seems to be clearly addressing an audience in the form of the reader. This audience is given several different definitions, such as her “enemy”, and “the Peanut-crunching crowd”.

Most of Plath’s poetry is tied directly to her turbulent life, so we can link her real-life suicide attempts to the ones depicted in this poem. As in some of her other poems, like ‘Daddy’, ‘Lady Lazarus’ is replete with violent Holocaust imagery. She refers to popular hearsay, which says that upon the mass-slaughters of Jews in the concentration camps, Nazi’s made lampshades out of Jewish skin, and paperweights from body parts and limbs.

A sort of walking miracle, my skin

Bright as a Nazi lampshade,

My right foot

 

A paperweight,

My face a featureless, fine

Jew linen.

By comparing parts of her own self to these, she achieves two things—she successfully victimizes herself by equating herself with the Jews, and portrays herself as a fragmented, dead corpse who is being used by other people symbolized by the Nazis.

Peel off the napkin

O my enemy.

Do I terrify? — 

Here she directly addresses the reader as her “enemy”. By asking us to “peel off the napkin”, she furthers the assumption that she is already dead and as is usually the case with dead bodies, is covered with a sheet. “Do I terrify?” is almost a rhetorical question due to the grotesque imagery of a corpse that follows in the next tercet.

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?

The sour breath

Will vanish in a day.

 

Soon, soon the flesh

The grave cave ate will be

At home on me

 

And I a smiling woman.

Though it is clear that she is talking about her suicide attempt here, these tercets could be perceived in two different ways. It could indicate her return, and resurrection by the flesh coming back to her bones and the vanishing of the sour breath associated with her rotting carcass. However, it could also refer to her final decay, with her becoming more comfortable and “at home” with her decaying self.

I am only thirty.

And like the cat I have nine times to die. 

This line leads me to believe that Plath didn’t believe that she would die in her third suicide attempt. The strong theme of resurrection that echoes throughout this poem, as well as other poems, is indication of that as well. 

This is Number Three.

What a trash

To annihilate each decade.

The use of tenses here and in the first tercet differs, in an interesting manner. In the first line, she says “I have done it again”, using past tense which implies that she has already committed the act, while in this stanza, she says “This is Number Three”, using present tense, as if she were currently carrying out the act. However, we know that in reality, neither of this was the case, since she wrote this poem in October of 1962, about four months before her third and final suicide attempt. This suggests a distinction between Plath and Lady Lazarus, separating one from the other. However, it is possible that she had begun contemplating suicide around this time, and had probably even undergone it mentally—thus explaining the vivid imagery of her own dead corpse, since she viewed herself as one.

What a million filaments. 

Filaments are the parts of a bulb that light up, so a “million filaments” could possibly refer to the excessive lighting that is linked with the almost circus-like atmosphere depicted in the lines that follow.

The Peanut-crunching crowd

Shoves in to see

 

Them unwrap me hand and foot—

The big strip tease.

Gentlemen, ladies 

The act of self-destruction now garners a seemingly insensitive audience, that is merrily crunching peanuts and which “shoves in to see” Lady Lazarus’ exposure. Interestingly, Lady Lazarus herself does not control this exposure, but others do, the ones denoted by the “them” that unwrap her. By calling it the “big strip tease”, Plath shows how her vulnerabilities are being put on display, not by herself, but by some significant others. She is also concurrently displaying contempt for the audience, which is so eager to see the “strip tease”.

 

Although there’s no specific rhyming structure in this extract, there are a few slant rhymes, such as “again” and “ten”, and “tease” and “ladies”. There are also some masculine rhymes such as “be” and “me”, along with internal rhymes such as “see” and “me”. Violent Holocaust imagery become metaphors for Plath’s fragmented body in the second and the third stanza, while a simile is used to compare Plath’s unsuccessful suicide attempts to the cat’s nine lives in stanza seven.

 

Though the poem talks about Plath’s suicide attempts, there is a strong theme of resurrection that echoes throughout. The title of the poem itself, “Lady Lazarus”, is a biblical allusion to Lazarus, the man who Jesus resurrected from the dead. The addition of the word “Lady” is also significant since it indicates a feminine presence, and seeing how Plath was part of the feminist movement, it could also hint towards some deeper feminist meaning, such as the resurrection of the female in a position more powerful than that of males.

Analyzing Cut

‘Cut’ was written by Sylvia Plath, in 24th October 1962, and was dedicated to Susan O’Neill Roe, who would take care of her kids.

The first 2 stanzas express the thrill that the author feels, of cutting one’s thumb, instead on an onion. As seen with many of her poems, the ending of the first stanza, continues into the second stanza. The last 2 lines of the first stanza continue onto the first 3 lines of the second stanza, working to create a flow, and a connection between the two stanzas. This long statement is immediately followed by a short, precise statement. This contrast serves to put attention on the Red plush. She describes the thumb, saying “What a thrill— My thumb instead of an onion, the top quite, except for a sort of hinge” which continues to the second stanza: “Of skin, a flap like a hat, dead white. Then the red plush.” Here, imagery is used, with first the image of a flap of skin, where her thumb was, and the second image, being the use of the colours, to highlight the differences between the dead thumb, and the blood. The flap of skin, or the ‘hinge’ is ‘dead white’, while the blood described as a ‘red plush’, which makes the blood seem lively and on the move, which is the opposite of the dead white.

The contrast between the blood and the flap, or the red and the white, is taken forward and repeatedly addressed to, through several images, and referrals to different wars that took place, and in each situation shows the ‘red’ defeating the ‘white’. This connects Plath’s cut, to the wars around the world, from wars in the American history, to the WW2.

In the 3rd stanza, the imagery of Indian (or, the Red Indian) and the little pilgrim (who were ‘white’) is used, where the little pilgrim has his scalp axed, by the Indian. The pilgrim, being white, represents the thumb, and Plath uses personification, to show the ambiguity she feels towards the thumb, as she refers to the thumb, as another individual altogether.

The 4th stanza is, unlike all the other stanzas, 10 lines long , and shows how the author clutching pink fizz, which could mean both medicine and champagne. This goes straight to the lines “a celebration this is”, which implies that Plath doesn’t really know how she should react to the cut, as she’s celebrating the spill of blood, and yet, she’s trying to halt the flow. The pink fizz itself could also mean the blood itself, as any fizz, will flow out of the bottle, like the blood, out of the thumb. This is ironic, as the fizz cannot be contained within the bottle itself, but is being used to try and halt the bleeding. The lines “out of a gap a million soldiers run, redcoats, everyone. Whose side are they on?” This again portrays Plath’s confusion as to how she should react. There is also the mention of the Redcoats, which personifies the blood, and highlights the colour red, but it also shows how Plath cannot stop so many soldiers, and the bleeding doesn’t stop. The Redcoats, also mean the British army, and they are put up against the “kamikaze men”, or the Japanese. The war now being mentioned is the WW2, and though the Japanese are not mentioned through the colour white, they are shown to represent the dead thumb, as refers to the kamikaze men as the homunculus, or a tiny human. Plath had also referred to the thumb as a little pilgrim, and in both these referrals, the thumb is shown to be a separate (and small) individual. Plath also mentions that she’s taken a pill to kill the thin papery feeling. This papery feeling could be the feeling of the dead skin on the remainder of her thumb.

The kamikaze men, in the 5th stanza, are combined with the Gauze Ku Klux Klan and their Babushka. The babushka is traditionally Russian, and the combination of different figures, from the WW2, could serve to also highlight the various links between countries, during WW2. The Ku Klux Klan, were a terrorist group in the southern part of America, who were against immigrant, like Roman Catholics, Jews, Blacks etc, and this is perhaps an attempt to link the terrorist group, to the Axis group, where Germany too, had wished to eliminate the minor races. Plath continues, saying that the “Babushka darkens when the balled pulp of your heart confronts its small mill of silence.” The blood, instead of flowing, is now in droplets, indicating that the bleeding has now, nearly stopped, and that the small mill of silence, is the babushka. This effectively puts an end to the ‘wars’ taking place.

The last stanza shows a sudden shift in tone, with the words “How you jump— Trepanned veteran, Dirty girl, thumb stump.” This also shows how Plath comes back to the reality, realising that her bleeding has stopped, and with the bleeding, her fascination and joy for the cut, also stops. Plath seems to know how happy she felt, because of the cut, and now being in her senses, is disgusted with herself. She scolds herself, saying “Dirty girl, Thumb stump.”

Analysis of Lady Lazarus – Jesika

Plath’s poems are usually written on a confessional note. Hence the speaker of the poem was assumed to be her in the beginning. This assumption is right, when we look into Plath’s life, and are able to relate to the events  and situation referred to in the poem.

Lady Lazarus consists of twenty-eight stanza or tercets, of three line each. The structure, the lyrical quality and relatively simple diction could be suitable for a light hearted poem. The iambic structure of the poem provides a more masculine tone to the speaker. The loose rhyming scheme suggest the uncertainty and fear. It does rhyme at various locations but with no set pattern.

Lazarus was a man who was resurrected by Jesus. So when we first see the title Lady Lazarus, what comes to my mind is that, this poem is a feminist approach to resurrection and it is a biblical allusion. Because she calls herself “a sort of walking miracle”, the title seems apt. From the title alone it becomes safe to assume that this poem involves about death and resurrection. Lazarus in the bible was a servant man covered in sores, like leprosy. Plath describes herself as having some sort defect that causes the “peanut crunching crowd in to see”. Lepers were often treated like outcasts biblically. Plath feels as if she is also some sort of freak for the public.

The first seven stanza’s from ” I have done it again” to “and like cat I have nine times to die” introduces us to the poem. “I have done IT again”, “once in every 10 years”. Plath seems to be doing “IT” every ten years. What is this it we still don’t know.  She then uses Holocaust allusions, and describes her skin as a Nazi’s lampshade, and her foot as their paper weight. She thinks of herself as a Jew, a victim.  “Soon, soon the flesh the grave cave ate will be at home on me” The internal rhyme of grave cave is personified as a flesh eater. But the whole idea of associating comfort with it, tells us that she is used to the odds, probably of death. “I am only thirty” tells us that she had already attempted suicide twice. (once accidently when she was 10, and another when she was 20-pill overdose) and this line might foreshadow her final suicide attempt. It is only when we come to the line “and like the cat I have nine times to die” we understand that the IT in the poem is a reference to death.

“what a trash to annihilate each decade” suggest that Plath’s once a decade suicide attempts are actually a waste. Tells us that she views suicide as nothing but a mechanism to completely erase whatever progress life had made. After this she hypothetically imagines the crowd watching her “number three” suicide attempt. ‘Peanut-crunching’ makes it gives an element of a show meant for  entertainment purposes. Further we find out that it is the “big strip tease”.  This intense imagery portrays her veracity towards the world. The show her resentment towards the society.

She then recollects her previous suicide attempts. And tells us that even after resurrecting twice she is the “same identical” woman.  “I rocked shut as a seashell” this simile is very powerful. It suggest that lady Lazarus was all curled up(under her mother’s bed- suicide attempt #2), trying to shut the world out, trying hard to die.

‘Dying is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well’. Now ironically the art of dying was not done well, because she was still alive. But then again, she did her task well, it was because of the resurrection that she was still alive. Usually an art is said to be a form of escape from reality. So dying for Plath, is a form of escapism. When Plath says that the whole act of dying is theatrical, it implies that it need not be real.  The use of enjambment here is smart. When we read dying we expect something depressing to follow, but instead here dying is an art.

There is a sudden shift of tone from this point onwards in the poem. She is furious. Both the times Plath was resurrected back to life. This resurrection has got her furious.  We are back to the realm of public show. ‘A miracle’ is said by a spectator amazed by her resurrection at the show. She says that this amused shout, had “knocked” her down. She was back to the “same place, same face, same brute”. The repetitive use of the word same shows her frustration and rage. Because she did not just want the crowd to view her as a victim. She wanted to escape the societal eyes, but that same society did not let her do so.

She seems to be plotting her revenge from here onwards. “There is a charge”, for “eyeing her scars, hearing of her heart, charge, a very large charge for a word, touch or bit of blood.” The strip tease image of the charge is a mode of payback for the crowd.  This sudden tone of seriousness tells us that she no more wants to be an immature artist. She between the brink of a massive breakdown and an evolution to someone fierce.  Again she comes back to the holocaust imagery, the obscure metaphors. The source domain bring to mind the indescribable human suffering. She addresses the “doktor, enemy, god, Lucifer’ to “beware”.”I turn and burn” hints us that she is on her way to becoming a demon.

“Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air”

These lines tie all the loose ends of the poem. Red here symbolies ultimate rage. We realise that all her enemies previously mentioned were men. The doktor was particularly her enemy, because he kept brining her back to life even when she wished for death. So now that she is a fierceful demon, she will eat all the men or enemies like air, ultimately to come out of their shadow and do as she desires. She represents herself as a Phoenix. Just like the Phoenix, when burnt alive can reborn in the ashes, so does she. The allusion to phoenix  is also a resurrection to something even more powerful and mightier than ever.

Hence concluding, Lazarus could possibly be a personification of Plath’s alter ego. The whole idea of metaphorically putting oneself through self-mutilation is to gain control over self. Because Plath seems to be losing control over the male dominant society. This poem is almost a form of dramatic monologue. The element of exaggeration was necessary to portray the veracity that she was going through aptly.  Act of committing suicide is usually connoted as a coward’s act, but here the case is different. The act of killing oneself is to be resurrected back to life, with a revengeful rage. It is almost like, the death gives her strength to face the society’s veracity.

On a personal note, I have two things to say. First, I think there is a conventional use of metaphor in the poem, when Plath considers life to be theatrical. She probably was also trying to look at a larger context and give her audience a message  that “life is a play”. She probably was trying to convey that make sure your show/drama/play in worthwhile enough for you to display it, hence the audience would not have to face the “peanut crunching crowd’s” “strip tease”.

I also think that the reason for Plath’s insanity is not her depression, but the male oppression. The fact that her memories are constantly occupied by male(her father’s/husband) brute memories and the fact that she had to live under the shadow of men all the time.

After analysing this poem, I feel that Plath’s seemingly interesting  and tragic life overshadows her work. Her work is partially ignored, and she is often sympathized and then appreciated by the crowd. Plath’s work if only looked at from the literary point of view, was beyond excellence. Not every poet can write down poems that capture the reader’s undivided attention. Creating intense imagery’s that mutilates oneself, is not everyone’s cup of tea.

Cut Analysis – Kaveen

Written in the year 1962, Cut is one of the many confessional poems written by the American poet Sylvia Plath. In terms of content, the persona in “Cut” is Plath herself. Plath was amongst the first American women writer to refuse to suppress her true emotions. With the exoerience of much melancholy in her life, “Cut” is a poem that describes her despair and escapism.

Looking at the structure of the poem, the poem has 38 lines each being very short. The shortness of the lines shows its importance.

There is a certain significance of the title of the poem. It sets a context of the whole poem, as pieces of information is emerged from one cut.

The scenario over here is about a woman who has cut her thumb accidently while slicing an onion. It is more of a scene where she is preparing  a meal and develops into an association and blurring of physical and emotional senses, where she finds a great excitement in the accident. Her tone in this poem, when she begins, is excitable. She pronounces it to be a “thrill” that the top of her thumb is gone except for a “hinge skin” that is flapping like a “hat.” This gives a sense to the reader that she has obtained some degree of satisfaction in theat pain. Plath in a way refers to the accident as a sign of empathy and phychosis. She mainly describes the feelings of self mutilation and the emotional release the cut brings to her. In the starting of the poem we don’t know whether the cut was an accident or the incident was occurred on purpose.

Her usage of historical metaphors and violent events help to continue the exciting tone and maintain the reality of the enthrallment of the cut.

In the poem, Plath starts out with metaphor relating to her accident. The plot then picks up on choronologically placed imagery from American history to pilgrims to Ku Klux Khan.

Further on, Plath also uses a lot of imagery, which makes the poem alive. The use of imagery reflects certain sense of vivaciousness. Some of the words used in the form of imagery are “pink fizz”, “red plush”, “Redcoat”, Stain” and “pulp.”

“Of skin,

A flap like a hat,

Dead white,

Then that red plush”

 

Plath has the description of the cut of the thumb in layers; like the layers of that of an onion.

From lines 1-19 there is a continuous movement/flow of emotions and actions about the cut throughout. At first, she begins by experiencing an ambiguous “thrill”, and then gets enthralled by the thumb taking a role of the pilgrim, a pink soda, a celebration and then Redcoat. Moving on from there, lines 20-25 suggests that she now begins to feel ill and the pain which is why she takes the pill to get rid of “the thin, papery feeling.”

     Having a closer look at it, the first line “What a thrill” gives an obvious suggestion that the cut conveys her feelings of excitement. In the second line she gives a metaphor to the onion saying the onion has many layers to it just like her life. The other lines in the first stanza describes a metaphor on how the cut has left a hinge of skin which gives a message that the cut is a release for her.

       The second stanza shows the image of the cut. Here the poet refers to a pilgrim with its head scalped by an American Indian.  The line “I step on it” says that she tries to face the pain it has caused. The next two lines where she mentions “clutching my bottle.. of pink fizz” suggests that she has now puts on a painkiller and claims it that the cut is rather a celebration. The next lines where she mentions Out of a gap, a million soldiers run, redcoats every one, symbolizes that blood is rushing out from the wound and gives an introduction to the battle/war. The last stanza has an essence of military imagery and throughout the poem to represent the control she feels while cutting and the feeling that is like a command that she is powerless to refuse.

 In all the images used in the poem, Plath is seeing the thumb as something apart from her; the thumb has a sense of detachment from her. She observes the thumb rather than experiencing it. “Cut” showcases a separation felt between the body and the thumb.

This poem  develops a certain tone by the usage of motives, feelings, self-mutilation and escapism. She has challenged the typical idea that cutting yourself is painful and pointless by creating a non-miserable atmosphere. Hence, she explores how one cut on her body has distracted her from reality and the emptiness in her life which maybe the reason behind her being satisfied with the cut.

‘Mirror’ Analysis – Jesika

Plath had multiple complex issues taking place in her life simultaneously. Mirror happens to symbolise troubled woman, who constantly wants to reject the societal influence on herself. She wants to view herself as an individual, but the biggest barrier appears to be the society.

The title mirror informs the reader about the speaker of the poem. Mirror in the very real world, physically shows us what we really are. Plath has taken this one step further, through personifying the mirror she wants to find her individual self.

The poem is written in free verse. It has no particular meter, pace or rhyming scheme. However,  Plath does use slant rhymes to enhance the effectiveness.  The poem is divided into 2 stanza both 9 lines each. Giving the poem a symmetrical look. Symmetrical or an even structure of the poem, is probably is another way to demolish the inequalities between men and women.

“I am silver … love or dislike” The use of personal pronoun tells us that this is the first person speaking, that in this case is the mirror. The mirror is personified by giving it a human attribute of talking and being the narrator. Hence this alludes to the mirror, it is unbiased. swallowing is again a personification, the mirror shows the image just as it is, without alteration. Unmisted by love or dislike tells us that nothing affects the truth of the mirror.

“I am not cruel, … four-cornered” – The use of the words “not cruel” instead of kind, is the mirrors way of telling us that it is not harsh. Strange thing here is mirror claims to have the eye of the little god. And so far the mirror kept praising about its truthfulness. Contradictory because God, does not praise itself.

“most of ..wall” – this line tells us the setting of the mirror.

“It is pink …flickers” – mirror is detailing the setting. the colour imagery of pink, gives a feminist aspect to the poem. The speckles  on the pink wall, could be referred to as the lack of originality of women.

“Faces and darkness … over” – The repetition of over and over could represent constant separation of women from their own self despite various attempts to do so in the patriarchal society. The faces and darkness represents men and their dominance.

“Now I am a lake” – The shift from the set up of mirror in the room to a lake, gives the perception a third dimension of depth. This could be yet another attempt of women to battle their way out.

“A woman bends over me … what she really is” – In the midst of her life in a patriarchal society, the woman often comes by the lake to find herself. She wants her own identity.  The woman might be bending to get a better view of herself.

“Then she turns … reflect it faithfully” – The woman prefers to deludes herself with the lies of candles and moon. They often hide the blemishes and make the woman look prettier. The lake here again praises itself, by calling it faithful. The constant praising of the lake makes us doubt the reliability of the lake as well.

“She rewards … hands” – The woman is crying. Because she is not satisfied with what she views herself as. The woman preferred the blemishes over the truth, because realistically the truth was that she still was subjugated to male dominance.

“I am important … darkness” – Once again, the tone of pride in saying I am important to her is not godly at all. But strangly the lake is important to the women, because the woman comes there daily, hunting for self.1`

“In me she … terrible fish” – The use of the word drown suggests the time passing by swiftly and situations remaining the same. The drowning and rising in the lake is metaphorically dqqescribing the inevitable process of aging. Probably the drowning could also tell us that the woman has spent a major part of her life searching for herself in the lake, this in turn could represent the constant battle against the society.

The tone of the poem seems bleak and mellow, because it does show the reality of aging and suppression.

If looked at this poem from a larger context, feminist perception, this poem was the symbol of search of the women then. During those times women were subjugated to male dominance. They often had to live under suppression. Hence, this poem could be addressing the search of the individuality for a woman.

Commentary on Mirror – Mukti

Mirror is a poem written by Sylvia Plath in 1961, just two years before her suicide. It is a reflection of Plath’s difficult life. It gives us a point of view of the mirror that is exactly reflecting Plath. It is a free-verse poem with no rhyme pattern.
Beginning with the very first line of the first stanza. “I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.” A person cannot be “silver”. This makes us look back at the title and realize that what she is talking about is a mirror. Mirror has no “preconceptions”. Plath has used personification here. A mirror has no preconceptions as it only shows what it sees without making its own judgments.
The word “swallow” is used as a metaphor to show that a mirror does not change what it sees. It shows one’s true self.
“I am not cruel, only truthful- The eye of a little god, four-cornered” Here the mirror is trying to clarify that it is not cruel and does not show what it feels, but only reflects what it sees, whether it is good or bad. It is only being truthful. It is also comparing itself to god, thinking that it is powerful and does exactly what god does too by giving unchanged reflections.
It is further personifying by saying that it “meditates” on the opposite wall. Now, mirror is a not a living thing that it can meditate. So maybe it is trying to say that it is contemplating against the wall and trying to think.
 
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
 
A pink-speckled wall gives it a feminine touch. So the setting is probably a bathroom since only bathroom walls are speckled. By the use of an enjambment the mirror tells us that it has looked at the wall for so long that now it has become a part of its heart. In the eighth line we see that the relationship between the mirror and the pink feminine wall is not constant as the wall “flickers”. After looking at the mirror, we switch off the lights and walk away. Hence, the reference to the word “darkness” could mean this.
Moving on to the second stanza, we realize that the mirror is no longer a mirror, but a lake. Also, now it does not talk about faces in general but the face of one particular woman.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
After looking for herself in the mirror, the woman is now bending over on to a lake to not only see her reflection but to find something more deeper, what she really is.
 
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
 
This woman is trying hard to find her actual self in the lake, something deeper than what is on the surface. Then she turns to the candles and the moonlight expecting different reflections from them. The light from candles and moon can warp sight. They can make anyone look beautiful and so they might not be that reliable in finding what you really are. “she comes and goes” indicates that the woman comes to the lake quite often in search of her inner depths but goes back home disappointed. Even though she is unable find her reflection, she still visits the lake each morning signifying its importance to her.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman.
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.
 
Now the water is not only calm, but terrifying, She refers to aging by mentioning the words “young girl” to “old woman” in the line. The young girl, looking at her reflections, has now turned into an old woman. Hence, comparing herself to a terrible fish! She is turning into something as ugly as a terrible fish.

 

Commentary on Daddy – Kaveen

“Daddy” is a confessional and a highly emotional poem written by American poet Sylvia Plath. It was written on October 12, 1962 shortly before her death. With the vivid use of imagery, Plath creates a figurative image of her father,Otto Plath, using various metaphors to describe her relationship with him. Otto Plath died when Sylvia was eight years old due to an advanced case of diabetes and having his leg amputated. The death of her father is said to have been an emotionally traumatic event for Sylvia which led to some of her later emotional problems.

 

This poem mainly deals with Plath’s deep attachment to the memory of her father and the despondency it caused in her life. This poem can also be seen as an avenue/outlet for Plath to deal with Otto’s death or her husband’s, Ted Hughes, betrayal.

Plath does this through reinvention of the relationship as one between a Nazi and a Jew.She dramatizes war in her soul by picturing herself as a Jew and her father as a Nazi.

 

In the first stanza, the reference to black shoe where she has “lived like a foot” suggest her submissiveness and entrapment.

“Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,

Ghastly statue with one grey toe

[…]

And a head in the freakish Atlantic” – In these three lines, her father is portrayed differently. He is illustrated as a massive fallen statue who Plath has spent her life trying to reassemble and restore.

 Furthermore, in the following next three stanzas the ‘size’ comes in picture as to how small Plath sees herself in front of her father; he has a towering presence plus the very amount of empowerment her father has on her which makes her feel small in front of him. Plath showcases her unhealthy relationship with the memory of her father by stating “Daddy, I have had to kill you.”

 

Looking at the lines 16-18 we get to know more about Germany. Plath talks about the German language but in a Polish town that has been destroys by war. The repetition of the word “wars” thrice, gives us the idea that the town has been flattened by more than one war. Lines 19-23 says that because there are many towns with the same name, Plath will never be bale to know where her father “you”, has “put” his foot “root”. It means that she is wondering where he immigrated from but will never be able to tell. In the same stanza lines 24-28, Plath illustrates her tongue getting stuck in German. She repeats “Ich” which is the German word for “I”. This suggests that her tongue seems to get stuck in such a situation that she can only stammers “I, I, I, I.” The very reason that comes in mind as to why her tongue stick is because maybe she was nervous or scared of her father. But, later in lines 29-30, it demonstrates that maybe her tongue got stuck while speaking German; She seems to get nervous speaking the language of her father(she found his language dirty, obscene and offensive)  to Germans who all seemed like her father. Plath here tells us that for her every German was her father. And she sees him in every German she comes across unfortunately with a negative association.

 

“An engine, an engine

Chuffing me off like a Jew.

A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.”

Plath uses the engine metaphor saying that the language like a train is ‘chuffing’ her off like a Jew. The implication of being taken by train like a Jew is that during the Holocaust the Germans took Jews to concentration camps by trains. Plath here also lists some World War ll concentration camps saying that its like she’s being taken to Dachau, Auschwitz and Belsen. 

“I began to talk like a jew.

I think I may well be a Jew.”

Here, Plath seems to be opposed to the German language that she begins to talk like a Jew (Yiddish) and she even thinks that may be is a jew. The lines explain that Plath associates the fear and terror of her father with the struggle of the Jewish people against the Germans.

 

In stanza 9, the language of poem begins to exclude baby talk and to develop more exclusively the vocabulary of the venom. It signals a change in her method of dealing with the image of her father. Plath accentuates linguistically her reliving her childhood by using works such as “achoo” and “gobbledygoo.”

 

The “neat mustache” and blue “Aryan eye” describe the physical characteristics of her father which makes him look very German. The mustache aligns her father with Hitler (his famous toothbrush shaped mustache) and “Aryan” being a term referred to Hitler’s perfect race of blond and blue-eyes people who were shown as a superior to Jews. Hence, Plath’s father is like the image of an atrocious perfection with Hitler’s mustache and the blue-eyes.

 

Next in line 48-50, Plath talks about how every woman loves fascist men. Earlier, Hitler and nazis were fascists. She describes the things women love about Fascist men. Plath then connects the booth in the face with ‘brute’ hearts of ‘brute’ men like her father. The use of repetition and rhyme intensifies the claim of her father being a cruel fascist. If looked at it in another way, her father was dominating and cruel but she still loved him; and she misses her father overpowering/dominating her. Her father has been reenvisioned in terms of sexual dominance, cruelty and authoritarianism.

 

An interesting fact comes in picture where it says clear-cut that her father was a professor. This is evident in the lines 51-52 : “You stand at the blackboard daddy, In the picture I have of you.”

 

Lines 53-56 portrays an idea that just as the cleft is in the wrong place didn’t make her father any less a devil, it didn’t make him any less the cruel man who bit her heart in two- “bit my heart in two” can be a vivid way to say that he broke her heart in two pieces. Plath’s resemblance to her father being ‘black’ also suggests that she’s referring him as a dark, evil person.

 

“I was ten when they buried you.

At twenty I tried to die

And get back, back, back to you.

I thought even the bones would do.”

These lines show the other affects on her-how disturbed she is by his death. Otto Plath died when she was ten and ten years later, when she was twenty, she tried to get back to him in an attempt of suicide. The word “back” being repeated thrice shows how distressed she is. When she says “even the bones would do” maybe she thinks when she dies, she’d be buried near her father and that once she becomes a skeleton she would be back with him.

 

Stanza 13 says that after she had been rescued from the suicide attempt and glues back together, she knows what direction to go to. Her direction is to make a model of her father. she’s creating a substitute for her father by finding a real man whom she imagines is like her father. Plath marries him (Ted Hughes) confirming her vows by saying “I do, I do.” So here, she herself is showing that she is in love with a fascist. Therefore, by marrying a man who is modeled after her father she fulfills her electra complex.

 

Line 68 tells us that now that she has a model of her father, she is finally through with him and that she doesn’t need him anymore. She is through with the very alive memories of her father and their effects on her life. Now that she has declared she’s through with him, Plath details how she is through with him. “the black telephone’s off at the root, The voice just can’t worm through.” Plath signifies that she’s “through” with him by saying the telephone is “off at the root.” The phone having a root gives the idea that voices can’t “worm” through. It can be imagines as a black telephone,e growing like a plant, from Plath’s father’s grave. And the voices coming through would be like worms in the soil.

 

“The vampire who said he was you

And drank my blood for a year,

Seven years, if you want to know.”

Sh’e has already made her husband out to be like Hitler and now he’s a vampire too. She starts by saying that he actually drank her blood for a year and then changes her mind and says he’s been drinking her blood for seven years. Apparently, she had been married to Ted Hughes for seven years. Drinking the blood is a metaphor used for Plath’s relationship with Hughes’s. Probably, something like he has been draining her life like a vampire drains out blood. The addition of “If you want to know” give a sort of thrust to her father who could be hurt by his daughter’s distress.

 

“Daddy, daddy, you bastard, i’m through. “

This line lands the whole poem to a crescendo. It’s a final condemnation made by her that she is totally through with him by the repetition of the word “daddy” and “bastard.” Noticeable fact is that Plath has used the word “daddy” only four time in the whole poem (not counting the title.) This affectionate term for father twice in the very last line makes it sound as if she’s beating on his chest to get her point across. Plath has criticized her father by calling him a Nazi, a devil and a vampire. but, in the end, the word bastard gives out a striking verbal punch and the reason for the poem to work itself up to. 

‘Daddy’ by Sylvia Plath

“Daddy”, Sylvia Plath’s one of the most confessional poems, was written in her later years and is inundated by the resentment and animosity that she felt toward her father. While the title “Daddy” creates a positive image connoting with love, warmth and even security, the poetry that follows deals with great extents of suppressed anger and bitterness. This contradiction holds the attention of the reader from the very first line, “You do not do,” where the speaker blatantly states that she’s done putting up with her father’s ghost. The poem conveys tension from the very outset and the accusations are crystal clear. Plath’s personal life has been showcased exceptionally well, one of the reasons why her poems are often termed ‘confessional’.

 

The themes of the poem are distinct and emphasized. ‘Daddy’ highlights the gender differences that the speaker feels have tied her down all her life. The association of females with suppression and the hostility that Plath carried for that concept has been touched upon. The speaker has used the image of her father to express her feelings about being controlled and dominated.

 

‘You do not do, you do not do

Any more, black shoe

In which I have lived like a foot

For thirty years, poor and white,

Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.’

 

These lines give off vibes of suffocation and entrapment that the speaker feels, living with her father. She compares her father to a black shoe that she’s been confined in, scared to even breathe. The poem deals the subject of morality—both the speaker and her father’s. When the father dies, Plath deems it almost necessary to give away her life too.

 

‘Daddy, I have had to kill you.

You died before I had time—.’

 

These lines are a declaration of sorts, an imminent compulsion; that the speaker is forced to drive a stake through her father’s heart. Even though she has done it only figuratively, this destruction of the men in her life—her father and her husband, is what has helped her put her foot down and move on. Mortality is linked with supernatural occurrences, and this generates a wide range of situations and realms that the poet can play with, for instance, the existence of vampires, the devil and even the colossal statue of the father, stretching across the width of the United States of America. This poem explores the paradoxes of death, afterlife, and it has an uncanny progression right from the beginning.  

 

 

 

The voice used in this piece of poetry is that of the first person. The speaker directly addresses her father, the second person. While this seems bizarre, seeing that the father that the speaker is addressing to is dead, it is also most effective only then. This is so because through the use of first and the second person, the point is carried across with sheer honesty. Though the use of third person is kept to the minimal, it is not completely excluded.

 

‘The vampire who said he was you

And drank my blood for a year,’

 

This brings to our notice another person, the husband, who is brought into the picture toward the end of the poem.

 

Plath’s poetry has been coined as ‘confessional’. This is for quite a few reasons. They give us a look into her personal life, where the truth has been blurred along with usage of fictional settings and comparisons. Even when there is more to this poem than what it conveys at the first glance, there’s always an apprehension of reading too much into it. Interestingly enough, Sylvia Plath was suffering from a tendency called ‘Electra Complex,’ better known as father fixation. This is, as defined in Wikipedia, a child’s psychosexual competition with her mother for possession of her father. With all the events occurring throughout the poem, for instance, phrases such as ‘I used to pray to recover you,’ and ‘At twenty I tried to die and get back, back, back to you. I thought even the bones would do,’ tied with the image of the father being so huge and so God-like tells us that the speaker had put her father up at a pedestal. Also, the fact that Plath was with her husband for seven years, which has been mentioned in the poem through the lines, ‘the vampire who said he was you, and drank my blood for a year. Seven years, if you want to know,’ support the assumption of this poem being confessional. And due to this, we can say that it is autobiographical to a certain extent.

 

Plath uses stylistic devices like metaphor and hyperbole to illustrate the vast part of her life that was occupied by her father. “…A bag full of God” is used as a metaphor for her father, who, when she was a little girl, was the center of Plath’s world.

 

‘Ghastly statue with one gray toe

Big as a Frisco seal

 

And a head in the freakish Atlantic.’

 

These lines are a clear exaggeration of how small she feels in front of the gigantic presence of her father. Also, irony is portrayed through the usage of the word ‘Daddy’ which is often associated with affection—one emotion that cannot be found anywhere in the poem. Repetition of the word ‘Ich’ (meaning ‘I’) takes place to show the uncertainty of her actions and the fear of her father. The repetition of the word

‘back’ shows the speaker’s distress and her desire to get ‘back’ with her father, even if death is what it takes. Though subtle, rhyming hasn’t been completely ignored. Sentences are mostly ending with the sound of ‘-oo’, with words like ‘do’, ‘shoe’, ‘Achoo’, ‘you’, which gains recognition as the poem continues. Metaphors play a big part in the poem as, in most of the poem there is a comparison being made of the father with a Nazi, then the devil, then the vampire and so on. The speaker compares herself to a Jew,

 

‘I began to talk like a Jew.

I think I may well be a Jew.’

 

Through these lines, we can say that the speaker almost victimizes herself. She says the German tongue to be ‘obscene’, and sees her father in every Nazi. By saying so, it is clear that she associates the Nazis to the greatest evil in the world. She expresses the feeling of being suppressed and overpowered by her father, much like the Jews being carried away to concentration camps in trains. Onomatopoeia, a poetic device used to describe sounds, is featured through the words ‘Achoo’—referring to a sneeze and ‘chuffing’—referring to the sound made by an engine. Imagery is another aspect of the poem that cannot be sidelined. Along with metaphors, it helps explain the various comparisons that take place in the poem. Allusion to the size (Ghastly statue…freakish Atlantic), the Holocaust (With your Luftwaffe…adores a Fascist), vampires and the devil (A cleft in your chin…but no less a Devil for that) has been made possible through vivid imagery. It is safe to say that the poetic devices used in the poem play a major role in the delivering and interpretation of it.

 

The tone throughout the poem shifts from utter acrimony for the father, to a few stanzas where it seems as though the speaker is mourning her loss. It makes sense that the speaker idolizes her father at one point, which makes it harder of her to cope with his sudden absence when she loses him. Toward the end, though, is it easy to make out the tone of finality that the speaker tries to express. We can perceive that those words circle back to the animosity that she holds for her father, only here, there is certainty too. The atmosphere of the poem is grave. Anger and anguish can be detected, too.

 

The diction and vocabulary of the poem is creative and easy to comprehend. Words relating to death recur and so do the Holocaust references. The words give the poem a rhythm and the pace depends on how cropped the sentences are. The negativity of the words leave a bitter taste behind when spoken out loud.

 

This poem deals with the towering presence of the father in Plath’s life and how she can’t seem to get over him even after his death. From this poem, it seems as though she has issues with her father, and not enough time to resolve them, consequences of which she faces throughout her life. She feels oppressed by her father, she is scared of him but she admires him, all at the same time.

 

 

Plath’s work is cherished for its stylistic and poetic accomplishments—the melding of comic and serious elements, its blunt voicing and its clipped sentences of themes that are questioned by the goodness in society. In this age of gender conflicts, broken families, and economic inequities, Plath’s candid language talks persuasively about the anger of being both betrayed and powerless.

Analyzing Daddy

‘Daddy’, by Sylvia Plath was written on the 12th of October 1962, shortly before her death. In 1962, Plath had also divorced her husband, Ted Hughes, after discovering that he was having an affair with another woman.  Plath, who had gone into depression at several points of her life, and had also tried to commit suicide before, had eventually taken her own life, in 1963. Sylvia Plath was fixated with her father, and after divorcing her husband, she was trying to overcome this fixation. In this poem, she not only tries to overcome her fixation, but also shows the difficulty in doing so.

In Daddy, Plath expresses her fixation towards her father, and her hatred towards him, due to the fact that he died. This fixation of her father seemed to nearly possess her mind, and despite being fixated with her father, Plath also shows the understanding that she needs to overcome this fixation. This is evident in the in the lines, The lines, “You do not do, you do not do, Any more, black shoe, In which I have lived like a foot, For thirty years, poor and white, Barely daring to breathe or Achoo” and “Daddy, I have had to kill you”. By calling her father a black shoe, and herself the foot, Plath portrays how she, both in her mind, and physically, felt surrounded and imprisoned within her father. This could also be seen as the fact that her father was in between her and the rest of the world, secluding her from the world. This would explain how she could not think of anything beyond her father, and the overwhelming presence he had in her mind. Plath was 30 years old when she died, so by saying that she lived like a foot for 30 years, Plath means that her father-fixation was with her for the majority of her life. The term “black shoe” is an object of low value, so, by reducing her father to a black shoe, she shows her distaste towards her father. While the statements “You do not do” and “I have had to kill you” show that Plath recognizes the need to eliminate her father, from her thoughts.

Plath goes on to explain her relation with her father even further, recalling what she remembered of her father, while he was alive. This can be seen in the lines, “You died before I had time–Marble-heavy, a bag full of God, Ghastly statue with one gray toe, Big as a Frisco seal”. This shows that before she could come to terms with her fixation toward her father, her father died, before she could “get her fill of her father”, and so, after her father’s burial, she felt hatred towards her father, for leaving her, and was left looking for her father, trying to seek a father figure everywhere she looked. The words ‘a bag full of god’ imply that for Plath, her father was, initially, a godly figure, but due to the fact that he left her, she gradually became increasingly bitter about him.

The lines “At twenty I tried to die. And get back, back, back to you. I thought even the bones would do. But they pulled me out of the sack. And they stuck me together with glue. And then I knew what to do, 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”. These lines show how her desire to be with her father, makes her want to die, to get back to him. Here, she shows that after failing to get to her father, she ‘made a model’ of her father, and she said ‘I do’, implying that she married a man, in whom, she saw her father. This also means that her husband was a mere representation of her father, while she too, was a representation of herself, by suggesting that she too was a ‘model’, by, saying that the people stuck her together with glue. The meaning of the word ‘Meinkampf’ also refers to Hitler, which again portrays her father as a Nazi.

Plath uses hyperbole, to connect the internal war within her, with some of the events from WW2, like her inability to speak to her father, in the lines “In the German tongue, in the Polish town, Scraped flat by the roller, of wars, wars, wars. But the name of the town is common. My Polack friend says there are a dozen or two. So I never could tell where you. Put your foot, your root, I never could talk to you. The tongue stuck in my jaw. It stuck in a barb wire snare. Ich, ich, ich, ich, I could hardly speak. I thought every German was you. And the language obscene.  An engine, an engine. Chuffing me off like a Jew. A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.” By saying that her tongue stuck in the jaw, and then saying that it stuck in the barb wire snare, followed by the ‘ich, ich, ich, ich’, the jaw becomes the barb wire snare.  The word ‘ich’ is staccato, and checks the speakers’ tongue, and so, the ‘ich’ is also the barb wire snare. Her father was an American German, while her mother was Austrian, so, Plath refers to her father as a Nazi, and her mother of Jewish origins, making Plath partially Nazi and partially Jew. This way, Plath shows that her relationship with her father is that of a father and daughter, and also that of a Nazi and a Jew, which further suggests that her relationship with the ‘daddy’ was a love-hate one. She tries to find the root of her father, to try and connect to him, but, she fails in doing so. Her father also ‘chuffs’ her off, implying that he is not willing to listen to her, or to connect to her. This idea is further reinforced, when she states that she could never talk to him.

She goes on to vent her anger, and again reveals the how her memories of her father become twisted, making it impossible for her to remember her father in a positive light. Through this poem, Plath seems to have the need, to talk to her father, and explain why she feels that way, as shown in the lines “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. You stand at the blackboard, daddy, In the picture I have of you, A cleft in your chin instead of your foot, But no less a devil for that, no not Any less the black man who, bit my pretty red heart in two. I was ten when they buried you.” Here, Plath recalls on a photo of her father, and although there is no sign of negativity in the photo, Plath still manages to derive to a conclusion, that her father is a brute, with a black, and that he was a Nazi (though he was not). Plath also goes on to describe that her father is supposed to have a boot in his chin, and though this picture is an exception, he is still the same ‘brute’. Finally, Plath tells her father, on what it was that he did that made him a brute. When put together, Plath seems to be in a deep conversation with the father (who she is imagining), only to let her father know that he has hurt her, and what he did, that hurt her so much, so as to relieve herself of the anger, and free herself of her father fixation, that she’s been living with for so long.

After revealing that her husband was more of a surrogate father to her, Plath goes on to say that her husband also disturbed and tortured Plath to his share, like her father had tortured her (by dying), which is shown in the lines “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. Daddy, you can lie back now.”  This shows that she has “killed” two men- one of them being “the vampire” (her husband), and the other being the man who her husband represented (her father). She “killed” her husband, by divorcing him, after the 7 years of their marriage (and by “putting the stake through the vampire’s heart), and she killed her father by “killing” her husband (who was merely representing her father).

In the last stanza, Plath seems to be heartily cursing, and emptying the bottled up emotions that she had faced, because of her father. This is clearly expressed, when she writes “There’s a stake in your fat black heart. And the villagers never liked you. They are dancing and stamping on you. They always knew it was you. Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.”  The phrase ‘stake in your heart’, means that she’s calling her father a Vampire, who was earlier said to be the husband who drank her blood, thus proving, that for Plath, her marriage was simply a mean of quenching the thirst for her father.

Nearly all the lines end in the ‘oo’ sound, with many more you’s then I’s, which hints towards the dominance that her father had over her, after he passed away.   Along with this, there are a lot of childlike terms, like ‘Daddy’ rather than Father, ‘Gobbledygoo’, ‘Achoo’, ‘bit my pretty heart in two’, which show her emotions are that of a child, that have been stored, as they were.

In conclusion, through this poem, Sylvia Plath reveals that has a desire to go back to her father, because she is fixated to him. On top of this, before Plath could grow out of her fixation, her father died, making her naturally want her father back even more. His absence in her life, tortured her and controlled her thoughts, making her feel both helplessly drawn to her father (because of his dominance) and causing her to hate him, because her father (who, after death, wouldn’t have any limitations of being inside a physical body), now completely surrounds her thoughts, trapping and limiting her. To add to this, Plath shows that the reason for going back to her father is to free herself of the fixation, and hatred, that she has for her father, almost as if to accuse him of physically leaving her, and then of invading her mind (and she wanted neither of these to happen). Apart from the motive of freeing herself, Plath also expresses all the memories, thoughts and encounters that she has of her father, as if saying them out in the open will make them go away, and shows how difficult she finds it. She seems to want to free herself from her miseries, and from the grasp of her father, by sending her father away, and making him take all the negativity and troubles with him. So, in many ways, Plath, through this poem, brings her father back, only to kill him herself, and put an end to all her miseries. In the end, the phrase “I’m through” can mean that I’m free, but it can also mean that “I’m finished”, implying that in the process of freeing herself from her father’s grip, she loses herself, as if to say that she finally managed to free herself from her father’s grasp, only to find, that without her father, she herself is nothing.

‘Daddy’, by Sylvia Plath was written on the 12th of October 1962, shortly before her death. In 1962, Plath had also divorced her husband, Ted Hughes, after discovering that he was having an affair with another woman.  Plath, who had gone into depression at several points of her life, and had also tried to commit suicide before, had eventually taken her own life, in 1963. Sylvia Plath was fixated with her father, and after divorcing her husband, she was trying to overcome this fixation. In this poem, she not only tries to overcome her fixation, but also shows the difficulty in doing so.

In Daddy, Plath expresses her fixation towards her father, and her hatred towards him, due to the fact that he died. This fixation of her father seemed to nearly possess her mind, and despite being fixated with her father, Plath also shows the understanding that she needs to overcome this fixation. This is evident in the in the lines, The lines, “You do not do, you do not do, Any more, black shoe, In which I have lived like a foot, For thirty years, poor and white, Barely daring to breathe or Achoo” and “Daddy, I have had to kill you”. By calling her father a black shoe, and herself the foot, Plath portrays how she, both in her mind, and physically, felt surrounded and imprisoned within her father. This could also be seen as the fact that her father was in between her and the rest of the world, secluding her from the world. This would explain how she could not think of anything beyond her father, and the overwhelming presence he had in her mind. Plath was 30 years old when she died, so by saying that she lived like a foot for 30 years, Plath means that her father-fixation was with her for the majority of her life. The term “black shoe” is an object of low value, so, by reducing her father to a black shoe, she shows her distaste towards her father. While the statements “You do not do” and “I have had to kill you” show that Plath recognizes the need to eliminate her father, from her thoughts.

Plath goes on to explain her relation with her father even further, recalling what she remembered of her father, while he was alive. This can be seen in the lines, “You died before I had time–Marble-heavy, a bag full of God, Ghastly statue with one gray toe, Big as a Frisco seal”. This shows that before she could come to terms with her fixation toward her father, her father died, before she could “get her fill of her father”, and so, after her father’s burial, she felt hatred towards her father, for leaving her, and was left looking for her father, trying to seek a father figure everywhere she looked. The words ‘a bag full of god’ imply that for Plath, her father was, initially, a godly figure, but due to the fact that he left her, she gradually became increasingly bitter about him.

The lines “At twenty I tried to die. And get back, back, back to you. I thought even the bones would do. But they pulled me out of the sack. And they stuck me together with glue. And then I knew what to do, 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”. These lines show how her desire to be with her father, makes her want to die, to get back to him. Here, she shows that after failing to get to her father, she ‘made a model’ of her father, and she said ‘I do’, implying that she married a man, in whom, she saw her father. This also means that her husband was a mere representation of her father, while she too, was a representation of herself, by suggesting that she too was a ‘model’, by, saying that the people stuck her together with glue. The meaning of the word ‘Meinkampf’ also refers to Hitler, which again portrays her father as a Nazi.

Plath uses hyperbole, to connect the internal war within her, with some of the events from WW2, like her inability to speak to her father, in the lines “In the German tongue, in the Polish town, Scraped flat by the roller, of wars, wars, wars. But the name of the town is common. My Polack friend says there are a dozen or two. So I never could tell where you. Put your foot, your root, I never could talk to you. The tongue stuck in my jaw. It stuck in a barb wire snare. Ich, ich, ich, ich, I could hardly speak. I thought every German was you. And the language obscene.  An engine, an engine. Chuffing me off like a Jew. A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.” By saying that her tongue stuck in the jaw, and then saying that it stuck in the barb wire snare, followed by the ‘ich, ich, ich, ich’, the jaw becomes the barb wire snare.  The word ‘ich’ is staccato, and checks the speakers’ tongue, and so, the ‘ich’ is also the barb wire snare. Her father was an American German, while her mother was Austrian, so, Plath refers to her father as a Nazi, and her mother of Jewish origins, making Plath partially Nazi and partially Jew. This way, Plath shows that her relationship with her father is that of a father and daughter, and also that of a Nazi and a Jew, which further suggests that her relationship with the ‘daddy’ was a love-hate one. She tries to find the root of her father, to try and connect to him, but, she fails in doing so. Her father also ‘chuffs’ her off, implying that he is not willing to listen to her, or to connect to her. This idea is further reinforced, when she states that she could never talk to him.

She goes on to vent her anger, and again reveals the how her memories of her father become twisted, making it impossible for her to remember her father in a positive light. Through this poem, Plath seems to have the need, to talk to her father, and explain why she feels that way, as shown in the lines “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. You stand at the blackboard, daddy, In the picture I have of you, A cleft in your chin instead of your foot, But no less a devil for that, no not Any less the black man who, bit my pretty red heart in two. I was ten when they buried you.” Here, Plath recalls on a photo of her father, and although there is no sign of negativity in the photo, Plath still manages to derive to a conclusion, that her father is a brute, with a black, and that he was a Nazi (though he was not). Plath also goes on to describe that her father is supposed to have a boot in his chin, and though this picture is an exception, he is still the same ‘brute’. Finally, Plath tells her father, on what it was that he did that made him a brute. When put together, Plath seems to be in a deep conversation with the father (who she is imagining), only to let her father know that he has hurt her, and what he did, that hurt her so much, so as to relieve herself of the anger, and free herself of her father fixation, that she’s been living with for so long.

After revealing that her husband was more of a surrogate father to her, Plath goes on to say that her husband also disturbed and tortured Plath to his share, like her father had tortured her (by dying), which is shown in the lines “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. Daddy, you can lie back now.”  This shows that she has “killed” two men- one of them being “the vampire” (her husband), and the other being the man who her husband represented (her father). She “killed” her husband, by divorcing him, after the 7 years of their marriage (and by “putting the stake through the vampire’s heart), and she killed her father by “killing” her husband (who was merely representing her father).

In the last stanza, Plath seems to be heartily cursing, and emptying the bottled up emotions that she had faced, because of her father. This is clearly expressed, when she writes “There’s a stake in your fat black heart. And the villagers never liked you. They are dancing and stamping on you. They always knew it was you. Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.”  The phrase ‘stake in your heart’, means that she’s calling her father a Vampire, who was earlier said to be the husband who drank her blood, thus proving, that for Plath, her marriage was simply a mean of quenching the thirst for her father.

Nearly all the lines end in the ‘oo’ sound, with many more you’s then I’s, which hints towards the dominance that her father had over her, after he passed away.   Along with this, there are a lot of childlike terms, like ‘Daddy’ rather than Father, ‘Gobbledygoo’, ‘Achoo’, ‘bit my pretty heart in two’, which show her emotions are that of a child, that have been stored, as they were.

In conclusion, through this poem, Sylvia Plath reveals that has a desire to go back to her father, because she is fixated to him. On top of this, before Plath could grow out of her fixation, her father died, making her naturally want her father back even more. His absence in her life, tortured her and controlled her thoughts, making her feel both helplessly drawn to her father (because of his dominance) and causing her to hate him, because her father (who, after death, wouldn’t have any limitations of being inside a physical body), now completely surrounds her thoughts, trapping and limiting her. To add to this, Plath shows that the reason for going back to her father is to free herself of the fixation, and hatred, that she has for her father, almost as if to accuse him of physically leaving her, and then of invading her mind (and she wanted neither of these to happen). Apart from the motive of freeing herself, Plath also expresses all the memories, thoughts and encounters that she has of her father, as if saying them out in the open will make them go away, and shows how difficult she finds it. She seems to want to free herself from her miseries, and from the grasp of her father, by sending her father away, and making him take all the negativity and troubles with him. So, in many ways, Plath, through this poem, brings her father back, only to kill him herself, and put an end to all her miseries. In the end, the phrase “I’m through” can mean that I’m free, but it can also mean that “I’m finished”, implying that in the process of freeing herself from her father’s grip, she loses herself, as if to say that she finally managed to free herself from her father’s grasp, only to find, that without her father, she herself is nothing.