Ft. Lauderdale, Fl USA
Grinch, here is an excellent critique of Daddy, showing the tricks of the trade Plath used in it's construction. Some of it may be helpful...
In "Daddy", Sylvia Plath shows intense emotions towards the relationships she had with her late father and husband. The character in this poem is Plath herself and it spans across a series of decades. It starts when Plath loses her father at a very young age, "You died before I had time- " (7), at a time when Plath still loved her father unconditionally. She tries to replace her father with her husband, a man who is identical in personality and habit. Over the years, as Plath becomes older and wiser, she sees these men for their true colors. She begins to illustrate feelings of anger and resentment towards them through use of vivid metaphor, imagery, and tone.
The recurrent use of the words 'shoes' and 'feet' in this poem are strong metaphors that take on different meaning as the poem proceeds. In lines two and three, "you do not do any more, black shoe in which I have lived like a foot", Plath compares herself to a foot living in a shoe, the shoe being her father. The shoe protects the foot and keeps it warm but, like a double edged sword, also traps and smothers the foot. Later in the poem the shoe is called a 'boot' (49) when the father is found to be a Nazi.
In the sixth and seventh stanzas Plath describes her father as a Nazi, "I thought every German was you" (29). She calls her father a Pollack and says she is the jew ("I began to talk like a Jew. I think I may well be a Jew" 34-35). Plath never had the chance to embrace her nationality, and felt resentment towards this separation from her father. She uses 'barb wire' metaphor to illustrate this, explaining how she never felt she could talk to him, that she could hardly speak. In the ninth stanza Plath compares her father to Hitler, "your neat mustache and your Aryan eye, bright blue. Panzer-man" (43). Plath says that her father was not God but a swastika, that she has always been scared of him, and she felt like she was being sent away from him, "Chuffing me off like a Jew" (32). In lines 53 and 54 Plath not only compares her dad to Hitler but to the devil as well.
In the twelfth stanza, and the three that follow that (lines 56 through 85), the poem takes a different direction and splits into a whole other story. Ten years after her fathers death Plath is still in mourning and tries to physically replace his presence in her life. She married a man who had the same look and traits as her father, "I made a model of you, a man in black with a Meinkampf look and a love of the rack and screw. And I said I do, I do" (74-77). Plath uses imagery to describe her husband as a 'vampire' an image or reflection of her father, a weaker or paler version of him who still haunts her long after his death. She again uses imagery when saying that this vampire drank her blood for seven years- Plaths marriage of seven years had drained her of life and energy. He was a brute force that oppressed Plath and hurt her, just like her father, and she in turn killed him.
The tone of this poem is one of child-like outrage and adult anger. This is showed by the repetitive use of the word 'daddy' and doubling up lines like "You do not do, you do not do" (1), and "Daddy, daddy" (90). As a child she adores her father but is also a bit frightened by him. I don't think it was until Plath entered her marriage, and realized the connection between her husband and father, that she was able to see her father for what he truly was. For as Plath grows older she begins to resent who he was to her, and the tone changes from a child's to that of a fiercer woman, strong with attitude. She states in the last three stanzas, "So daddy, I'm finally through" (77) and again in the last line, "Daddy, daddy, you *edited*, I'm through" (90). It seems as though, at the end of the poem, Plath was finally able to resolve her conflict with herself and her father.
..and, Sunshine? What you do, you do well