Daddy By Sylvia Plath Summary

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Decades after her father’s death, the speaker of Daddy by Sylvia Plath still couldn’t make peace with the image of him, which leaves many to question the nature of their relationship. As a vessel for the speaker’s emotional outbreak, the poem alternates among her idolation and fear, and her love and rejection for her father, feelings that she constantly struggle between. Thus, the speaker reveals her past admiration and obedience towards her father, but also her lack of an emotional bond with him, something that would later prove detrimental to her life.

Daddy is a dominant, greater-than-life figure that the speaker admired and adored. In the second stanza, she describes his dead body as as “Marble-heavy, a bag full of God”. This godly
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With internal conflicts that will remain forever unsolved with her father’s death, the speaker mentally suffers. With her dependency and admiration of her father’s greatness, she doesn’t know how to exist as anyone other than Daddy’s little girl. The pervasiveness of him doesn’t allow her to shake his image off, since she will be left empty without it. Furthermore, her admiration was also tainted by fear and a lack of emotional connection. It is notable that in this poem, their relationship isn’t characterized by any direct interaction but only her own perception, watching and imitating Daddy from a distance. Thus, there’s a sense of distance, of incompatibility, and a feeling of something lacking in their relationship that torments the speaker. The poem describe her final effort to detach herself from this struggle, which predicts her death. With admiration, fear, dominance, and distance, the relationship between the speaker of Daddy and her father could be like every other family of the twentieth century. However, her father’s abrupt death has revealed its detrimental flaws by leaving her with a lack of an independent personality and decades of mental suffering. Applied universally with regard to the feminist nature of Sylvia Plath’s poetry, this becomes a criticism of the father’s dominance in the family, and a commentary on the significance of a father-daughter
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