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Daddy – Sylvia Plath : Poetry Analysis

27 Jun

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.

 

Daddy, I have had to kill you.

You died before I had time—

Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,

Ghastly statue with one gray toe

Big as a Frisco seal

 

And a head in the freakish Atlantic

Where it pours bean green over blue

In the waters off the beautiful Nauset.

I used to pray to recover you.

Ach, du.

 

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.

I began to talk like a Jew.

I think I may well be a Jew.

 

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna

Are not very pure or true.

With my gypsy ancestress and my weird luck

And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack

I may be a bit of a Jew.

 

I have always been scared of you,

With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.

And your neat mustache

And your Aryan eye, bright blue.

Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You—-

 

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.

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.

So daddy, I’m finally through.

The black telephone’s off at the root,

The voices just can’t worm through.

 

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.

 

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.

Questions

 1.      Who is the speaker of this poem?

A daughter who is angry, disappointed, and sad with his father. The daughter uses figurative image of her father like a black shoe; like a statue that stretches across the United States; like God; like a Nazi; like a Swastika; and finally, like a vampire. The speaker is a woman or a daughter because on line 71 “If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two” it is related to the woman, how she is hatred with two of them. Like bullying.

2.      What is the tone of the poem?

She feels full of anger and hatred. For example, in “Daddy, I have had to kill you” it sounds like you really want to kill your one of family member. Is it normal? It is not normal, so I say she really feels disappointed with her father whereas he is a father who gives her money every day. Also, “If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two” it sounds like a big revenge of the speaker.

3.      In the first stanza how does he/she see him/herself?

“You do not do, you do not do” this repetition sounds like no happy with this stanza. The speaker tries to say to the “you” as “father” that not to beg something “You do not do, you do not do”

The speaker tells that “black shoe” is the place the speaker’s lived in.

“Any more” tells that the speaker want to go out from that place.

“Foot” describes what the speaker’s feels. The speaker is like something “not important” in father’s speaker’s life.

“Poor and white” explain that the speaker is really full of scared and threatened.

“Barely daring to breathe or Achoo” tells that the speaker won’t dare to breathe or sneeze because it can disturb the speaker’s father, meaning that the speaker feels trapped, scared, and nothing compared with this bad dream.

Whole : The speaker describes about her feeling about her father. She  won’t to stay together with his father because she is too scared to face his father. She said that he/she even won’t dare to take a breath or sneeze.

4.      How does the speaker characterize his/her father?

In line 16 to 18

In the German tongue, in the Polish town

Scraped flat by the roller

Of wars, wars, wars

The speaker describes her father’s as a German tongue where in the Polish – a town has been destroyed by war. The speaker tells that her father scared the speaker like a German has been done to the Polish. There is called colony. “Wars” to describe what happen on the speaker and her father. It’s like no good communication.

In line 24 to 28

“I never could talk to you” The speaker also laments that he/she never talk to the father.

The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare

Ich, ich, ich, ich,

I could hardly speak.

The speaker also laments that she never talk to the father because her tongue always stuck. She describes that she talks to German and feels nervous, even she never understand about the language. Finally, the speaker failed to speak fluently although she had been tried for several times. Clearly, the father has a label to be a stubborn person, even the daughter feels not comfortable to speak between them.

Lines 29-30

I thought every German was you

And the language obscene

The speaker explains that the father is Nazi –kind of people in German. They uses the bad language, and the speaker doesn’t understand about the language. The speaker has a trouble communication with her father.

Lines 43-44

And your neat mustache

And your Aryan eye, bright blue

“neat mustache” and blue “Aryan eye” describe how the father physically looks like very German, like Adolf Hitler. While “Aryan” is a term for during Nazi rise to power. And “Blue-eyed” people who were seen as “high-class” to Jews and gypsies. So, the image of the father’s speaker is really Hitler with Hitler’s mustache and idealized bright blue eyes.

Lines 45

Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You ~

Panzer-man related to the German tank drivers. Describing how scary and terrible the father’s speaker.

Lines 48-50

Every woman adores a Fascist,

The boot in the face, the brute

Brute heart of a brute like you

The speaker tells about the Fascist which is loved by women. It says that “brute” relate to Hitler. “Brute like you” You is father, so the character of the speaker’s father is brute, cruel.

5.      What kinds of emotions are revealed in this poem by the speaker? How would you know?

The kinds of emotions are a revenge, claiming that she killed both her father and the man – her husband.

Lines 71

If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two ~

The speaker claim from line 6 that she killed her father. We had known that the father died before the speaker really had killed him. But, there is one man, not her father, who is killed by her. The second man is… (the clue is in the next stanza)

Line 72-74

The vampire who said he was you

And drank my blood for a year,

Seven years, if you want to know.

The indication of the second man that she modeled after her father and married. “Drinking blood” the metaphore for the speaker’s relationship with his the this man, like a marriage. “A drank my blood for a year” it sounds like to drain the speaker life away, like a vampire sucks a blood to dry. “Seven years” how the speaker feels cruel of the husband. “If you want to know” the speaker just want to emphasize and tell about a long year she had been cruel with to her father.

The underlined word model is from line 64-65 “I made a model of you, A man in black with a Meinkampft look” the speaker has a model like his father.

Line 66 : “And a love of the rack and the screw” the rack and the screw are both gruesome torture instrument. This man sounds like the epitome of devil.

6.      What do you think if the title, is it opposite? Why/why not?

Yes, I think it is opposite. Logically, Daddy is usually for a spoil child to her father. It indicates the closeness between the daughter and her father. It also shows good relationship between them. But I found from the analysis that it was so far. Almost there is no way to show about the proximity between father and his daughter. The speaker always uses bad, rude, rough word to metaphors her father at the poem, all of stanzas.

But on my opinion, it is unique title. Because the writer, Sylvia Plath, uses a contrast title to make the reader be misled. Before people read the poem, they will think “A”. After finished reading, the will think “B”. The readers will be curious about the “real message” from the poem.

7.      How do you think the relationship of the speaker and his/her father?

I think that relationship between of the speaker and hher father is not good. Because in stanza 1 the speaker open with her fear word to describe about his feeling: scared and not comfortable; like want to run away. About the speaker is never using a good figurative word to describe her father: like a black shoe that she’s had to live in; like a statue that stretches across the United States; like God; like a Nazi; like a Swastika; and finally, like a vampire.

8.      How would you explain the last line of the poem?

The last line : Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through

This line like to reach to the top. The speaker uses word not only “daddy” but also “bastard” which I think they have contrast meaning about positive and negative. Word “daddy” related to a child who is very spoil and love his father. And it has positive meaning. Whereas “bastard” is negative word.

My opinion that the speaker shows her love with “daddy” like she is beating her chest hardly. She uses “bastard” to show her effort to criticize her father – he’s Nazi, the devil, and a vampire. But in the end, he/she just wanted to show good verbal punch to call her father a bastard.

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