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Daddy by Sylvia Plath


Sylvia Plath wrote “Daddy” just four months before her death by suicide in February 1963. In the months, before she took her life she wrote two to three poems per day in a frenzy to purge her system of the chaos of her thoughts and emotions. Daddy is a confessional style of poetry, used by the writer as an outlet for pent up feelings of the love/hate relationship she had with her father and the guilt she experienced from it. (Kehoe, John)

Daddy is a morbid, dark, disturbing poem seemingly narrated by an angry child/adolescent girl. She may well have done this intentionally, because there are things she feels she can get away with saying as a child, which the constraints of adulthood would not allow her to do. In the beginning of the poem she rages against a father she feels has betrayed and abandoned her, “Daddy, I have had to kill you. You died before I had time-“. By the end, she transfers that rage to her estranged husband, “If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two”. (Revising Life, pg 48)

There has been reference made to the black shoe in the first stanza, “Anymore black shoe in which I have lived like a foot” as representing her fathers amputation of his leg from complications of diabetes. This represents a symbol of oppression, of being held down and dominated by her father. She mentions it again in the tenth stanza, “The boot in the face, the brute, Brute heart of a brute like you”. She gives the impression of hating her father, for not only dying, but also being authoritarian and stern. Note she says, “I see you at the blackboard in the picture I have of you”. Not “you read to me or held me on your knee”. She refers to him as “the black man who bit my pretty red heart in two” symbolizing her pain caused by not being acknowledged or feeling love from her father. She likens h

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