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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Further, Roethke uses word diction to set the overall tone for this poem. The word “waltz” which is used frequently throughout the text means “to dance in triple time performed by a couple who as a pair turn rhythmically around and around as they progress around the dance floor.” If Roethke was undergoing abuse, the author would choose unfavorable words to describe encounters with his father. Instead, Roethke uses heartening words to get his message across; which is that he will cherish the memorable times he shared with his father. Another word easily misinterpreted is “romped” used in line five, which gives readers a negative connotation; but in truth means “ to play roughly and energetically”
“My Papa’s Waltz,” written by Theodore Roethke, tells of a boy's waltz with his father. While light on the surface, the words hint that there may be a darker nature to the poem. The father, who is a hard-working laborer, has different sides to him that leave the son with ambivalent feelings. Told from the first person point of view of the son, the speaker describes the details of a waltz while his mother simply stands to the side. Theodore Roethke’s poem, “My Papa’s Waltz,” uses an extended metaphor and carefully placed syntax in order to portray the complex relationship between the speaker and his father with a light tone.
Compared to the father’s internal craziness, the description of the mother is far more reserved and composed – a contrast of movement and stillness. While the father has a mind vibrating “like a plucked string”, the mother “lies there in the dark” and “counts the minutes as they pass” (12). While he expresses his passion with a cycle of “exhilaration, exhaustion, frustration”, she tries to suppress her disappointment and sadness by “[pressing] her forehead to the glass” (16). While the mother sincerely and dearly desires the companionship at home, the father “finds himself listless, irritable” in the face of serenity and “absence of imminent disaster” (7). The whole tone of the description for the father is vibrant, accompanied by a lot of metaphors of him, the sky, or the balloon.
Every story consists of different elements, such as characters, plotlines, and settings. Nonetheless, many stories portray the same messages or ideas. “My Papa’s Waltz,” by Theodore Roethke, depicts a reckless father who is loved by his child, while “Those Winter Sundays,” by Robert Hayden, depicts a hardworking father whose child is indifferent to him. Though the poems depict exceptionally different childhoods, both contribute to the idea that perceptions of parents alter as one grows into adulthood. Both poems use harsh words and critical tones in order to convey this notion, however in “My Papa’s Waltz,” they signify the recklessness of the father and how the narrator perceives his father as an adult, while in “Those Winter Sundays,” they
Jane serves as a vehicle for the complex yet ordinary and natural feeling of remorse due to a person’s death. She is described as having a “sidelong pickerel smile” (line 2). A pickerel is a type of fish with a somewhat smiling expression. However, the fish is not beautiful or radiant which implies that her smile was unique and authentic because Roethke could have easily used “glimmering sunshine” to describe her smile. The second and third stanzas revolve around Jane’s happiness and sadness which reveal her depth and range of character.
(Plath 24) Meaning she loved her father yet was scared of him oddly. The love between family would always be there although as through the poem she states the folks around the community hated him and it took her years to finally notice why, he was a Nazi. However, both poems seem rather enthralled to their own perspective when the input of the author effects.
The conflicting interests of the mother and the father result in a situation where one must make a sacrifice in order to preserve the connection in the family. The flat depressed tone of the poem reflects the mother’s unhappiness and frustration about having to constantly
he explains how his father’s motive for loving him and raising becomes a challenge for the son to accept, because of his adolescent behavior and likewise in Sharon Old’s poem “The Possessive” the narrator would describe how uncomfortable she felt when she her daughter grow up too fast. Both poems use a narrative that suggest that there are
In Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz”, the speaker seems to be an adult reminiscing his childhood through a metaphor of a dance. The poem suggests that the boy was abused and the mother stood by without doing much about it. Three topics that
A Father’s Affection “My Papa’s Waltz” and “Those Winter Sundays” describe a character who reflects on their childhood. Although they based on the same theme, the two poems have very different perspectives. “Those Winter Sundays” talks about how the son regrets for not showing his love for his father, when all his actions went unnoticed. “My Papa’s Waltz” reflects on a son 's memory with is father where his danced around the house after the father long day at work. Both poems reflect on how their fathers showed his love for his son, the time spent with their fathers, a maternal conflict, and their relationship with their father.
“My Father’s Song” describes the close, tender relationship between a father and his son, while “Those Winter Sundays” depicts a more distant, strained relationship between the father and his family. Ortiz’s lively descriptions of pleasant memories, illustrate how the father’s interactions with his son reveal his love and strengthen their relationship. A darker, emotionless tone fills Hayden’s poem as he emphasizes a father’s austere, yet sacrificial love toward his family. These poems both set different examples of how some families choose live out the bond between one
“Daddy” by Sylvia Plath is a daughter’s overdue words to her dead father. As a vessel for the speaker’s emotional outbreak, the poem alternates among her idolation and fear, and her love and rejection for him, feelings that she constantly struggles between. The work reveals the destructive nature of the memory of the speaker’s father, and portrays her final attempt to break free of its shadow. The poem is one big apostrophe directed at the speaker’s dead father, and in doing so she regresses into her childhood self.
In “Daddy”, poet Sylvia Plath uses imagery and allusion to show her bad relationship she had with her father, how her life was miserable while she was writing the poem, and blaming her father for her status by comparing her depression to the holocaust during World War 2, thereby suggesting that her pain is greater than a world catastrophe. Plath starts off with Imagery in lines 6-8 “Daddy, I have had to kill you./you died before I had time-/Marble-heavy, a bag full of god”. In this sentence Plath talks about how her father is deceased, and describing him as a known and strong godly figure with the words “Marble-heavy” and “god.” This line also goes back to the holocaust allusion that is shown in the poem. When Hitler ruled Germany, he was also described as a godly figure.
“Daddy” reflects two completely different time periods in Plath’s life. The first age it reflects is her youth, particularly right after her father died. She confesses in an interview that her life was “sealed off after the age of seven and that her adolescence was not too happy, causing her to become introverted and to write diary poems between the ages of nine and sixteen” (Butscher 14). Her father’s death was the reason behind many of the poems she wrote, often serving as her muse (Rietz 418). This traumatic event appears in Plath’s poetry as an end to her wholeness and her perfect childhood (Kroll 1).