Roethke Vs Plath

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In Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy” and Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz” there are similar topics of negatively portrayed fathers. In Plath’s “Daddy,” Plath portrays the father with hatred and abhorrence although she loves some parts of him, and in Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz,” Roethke portrays the father as an oblivious drunk, whom he still loves. These events not only contribute to the mental illnesses that Plath and Roethke later acquired but also they contribute to how we interpret the meanings of their poems and what topics their poems are about. Sylvia Plath and Theodore Roethke have backgrounds that have a major influence on what topics they choose to write about, they share mental illnesses, their backgrounds influence the way each reader…show more content…
The backgrounds of Roethke and Plath have a major influence on the way we interpret the meanings of their poems. Many people interpret Roethke’s poem as fun and playful but Jim Baird states that “The poem may read as a warm memory of happy play, but when one is familiar with the rest of Roethke’s work, a darker view emerges” (1-3). Through this we see that Roethke’s previous work affects how some interpret “My Papa’s Waltz.” When K.G Srivasta states “by describing her father as a statue with a head pouring bean green over blue the poet calls our attention to the later life of her father, when he became a professor of biology…” (126) and “Thus “blue” stands for the general state of Professor Otto Plath’s mind…” (126) We can assume that Plath is alluding to her father when she states “…a statue with a head pouring bean green over blue…” (290-292), since Otto Plath was a professor of biology. In Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz,” he shows a father oblivious to how he is treating his son because he is drunk. When we see that Roethke’s father died when he was merely a child, maybe Roethke portrayed the son clinging on “…such waltzing was not easy” (293), because Roethke would take any attention he could get from his father if he was alive. Roethke had different feelings about his father. In “My Papa’s Waltz,”…show more content…
Sylvia’s references to Nazi’s and Germany support that she had a negative relationship with her father. This negative relationship is clear when Edward Butscher states “Her case is complicated by the fact that her father was also a Nazi and her mother very possibly part Jewish” (336-337). The fact that Plath believed that her father is a Nazi and her mother could be part Jewish could contribute to the hatred Plath has toward her father. When Plath states “I thought every German was you.” (290-292) and “I began to talk like a Jew” (290-292), she supports Butscher’s quote through stating that she believed that her father was a German and she thought he was out to get her. Not only does Plath believe that her father is out to get her, but also she believes that he is out to get her mother. This worsens the relationship between Plath and her father. K.G. Srivastava states “In the passage, the poet is describing her father in the ugliest possible manner” (126), this shows us that Plath’s relationship with her father was not the best. Plath wants to get away from the psychological grip her father had on her without letting go of the parts of him she still loves. Through Roethke’s poem “My Papa’s Waltz,” we can see the portrayal of a negative father when Roethke says “The whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy; but I hung on like death: such waltzing was not easy”

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