Analysis of Daddy – Jesika

‘daddy’ perfectly reflects the constant state of extreme conflict she was in those last months of her life.  Evidently written on a confessional note. Plath seems to suffer from Electra complex. Daddy is a powerfully creative poem from the point of view of readers and the imageries. She is frustrated by the lack of opportunity to communicate much with her father. Her curious mind has inquisitive questions to which she demands answers. The lack of answers makes her swing to and fro between her unfulfilled emotions.

The structure of the poem seems well-balanced to the eye. It consists of 16 stanzas, each of which consist of five lines. These five lines vary tetra and pentameter. Each stanza contributes significantly in constructing a powerful image for its audience. Exceptionally well use of rhythm is used in order to increase the effectiveness of the poem. To keep the interest of the audience alive, Plath deliberately uses short lines.

“you do not do … achoo”  – Here, The repetition of “you do not do” gives the persona an assertive edge; she is standing up to her father. It also makes her sound a little immature, as though she has to express herself in this way. Indeed, the syntax throughout the poem is stilted, with little complicated vocabulary, giving the persona a childlike quality. Plath compares her father through a metaphor of a “black shoe” in which she lived like a “foot” . She was been suppressed by her father’s thoughts for 30 years. Due to this she can barely “Breathe or Achoo”. the use of achoo makes the whole sentence seem childlike, thus signifying that she ever since plath was a child, she could not express her own individuality.

“Daddy I’ve had to kill you – the use of kill here is metaphorical. the words “had to” make it seem as though plath was out of options.  Metaphorical killing is verified as we come across the next line “You died before I had time”.

“You died … beautiful nauset” – This is an enjambment. She describes her father here. giving him the image of god. Just like god, her father memories trapped here.  She uses simile here to create a fierce image of her father. The image that keeps her trapped.

“I used to pray to recover you” – the tense of the sentences tells us that Plath does not wish to recover her father anymore.

“scraped flat — wars” – First glimpse of a holocaust imagery. The repetition of wars, tells us the constant battle she faces between her father’s memories and her own individuality. She tells us that her

“So I never could tell where you put your foot, your root, I never could talk to you” – this is plath’s previous attempts to search for her father.  She recollects them chronologically.

“The tongue stuck in my jaw”. This expresses her supression. And the dominance of her father over her mind.

“It is stuck in a barb wire snare. … German was you” – Plath’s tongue was stuck inabarbed wire. Ich is the german for I. She could only stutter repeating I over and over again. The repetition of ich tells us how deeply her father’s memory has scared her. Plath seems frustrated with the with the lack of opportunity to communicate much with her father. Lack of answers are the reason to her constant state of flux.

“An engine … I may well be a Jew” – again to holocaust imagery. World war II had taken place while she was alive. During this time hilter was dominant, perhaps this is why she describes her father-fixation fury using Holocaust Imagery. So getting back to the poem. Here she thinks of herself as a Jew, a victim in German’s trap.

“The snows of the tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna, — true” – The purity of snow in Tyrol and the clear look of Vienna beer are in stark contrast to the dark horrors that took place nearby in Nazi Germany.

“with my gipsy …. bit of jew” The repetition of and my tarok pack , keeps the rhythm of the line moving. Gypsies just like jews will killed by nazi due to their impurity. So she again mutilates herself  by putting her in the place of a Jew.

“I have always been scared of you” – considering her as a victim, she describes her father’s Bold german characteristics. the words “goggledygoo” follows “luftwaffe”, masked as something of significance, but its actually a nonsense yet playful word. It might refer to the “obscene” language, german.

“And your .. bright blue”  – Aryan race describes a perfect German. So plath’s father is now the german image of terrible perfection. – with hitler’s mustache.

“Panzer … O you –” Panzer man refers to a german tank driver. This continues to build the scary image of her father. Then again we have a phrase, “Oh you” but this time the phrase is in english. “oh you” in  german (that is ach, du) was used earlier in the poem. The use of Aposiopesis after Oh you, that is the breaking up of speech, makes is evident that plath fears her father’s personality. Moreover the memory which haunt her.

“Not god … squeak through”  – from this point her tone towards her father, changes.  – Here she takes back her previous statement of calling her father god. She infact calls him swastika – which was the nazi symbol.  the use of the word black, associates with the intimidating effect that her father had on her.

“The boot in the face … brute like you” – goes on to describe what women love about Fascist men: the man’s “boot in the [woman’s] face,” a rather cruel gesture to establish dominance and power. Here she is not only complaining about her father, but she is expressing her rage for the male dominance. The repetition of the word brute is for emphasis on the violent personality of men.

“you stand …. any less black man who bit my pretty red heart into two” here she compares her father to a devil, once again she uses the color black. Black is usually associated with the dark deeds.  She uses black to describe her husband who broke her pretty red (well-do-to) heart into two by committing an act of infidelity.

“I was ten … bones would do” Here she recollects the times when she tried to reunite with her father.  we infer this from the repetition of “back, back, back to you”

“but they pulled .. glue” recollects how she was resurrected. We can cross reference this line to her poem lady lazarus where she says even after resurrecting twice “she was the same identical women”.

“I made a model … rack and the screw said I do, i do” I do refers to marriage, however from its repetition we can infer that plath is mocking herself for marrying a model of man, who reminded her of her father.

“So daddy … worm through” – By through she means she is through her father’s memory, her husband’s infidelity and her life. off the root, tells us that she is cutting links with the outter world. hence  these lines to an extend foreshadow her final suicide attempt.

“If I have killed one man, …if you want to know” The two men she refers to here are her father and her husband. she metaphorically attempts to kill their memories. She compares her husband to a vampire, the image of drinking blood tells us that her marriage drained her.

According to me, the tone of the poem sounds  like a dark, disturbing nursery rhyme considering the title “Daddy”. With this poem, Plath makes violence sound playful. But the playfulness of violence makes the poem unique. I think Plath’s rejection of family and soceity leads to the final rejection and mutilation of self.

“There’s a stake in your fat black heart …. they always knew it was you … bastard, im through” – Once again she uses color imagery here to express the gloomness and call her father heartless. These lines were her final attempt to mutilate her dead father as well. From the aggressive tone of these lines we can infer that plath seems frustrated with the with not only the lack of opportunity to communicate much with her father, but the male dominance of the society. Rejection of society and family leads to final mutilation that is of self.


One thought on “Analysis of Daddy – Jesika

  1. you structured the commentary very well, but didn’t Plath reject the daddy in her MIND, not her actual daddy?

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