Analysis of Sylvia Plath's poem "daddy"

Essay by daydreamer4evrCollege, UndergraduateA+, February 2005

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To attempt to summarize "Daddy" would be an injustice to its many layers of meaning. However, in short, it is a poem in which the speaker tells of her father's early death in her life and the lingering effects it had on her, resulting in an unhealthy preoccupation with him and a desperate need to rid him from her life so she can finally move on. It is not immediately apparent whether the term "daddy" refers to the speaker's actual father or perhaps something larger, broader. The poem has been interpreted by many to be a vengeful outcry against the grip her father has had on her since his death. However, it becomes apparent that Plath herself is the speaker in "Daddy" and the rage she expresses is aimed largely at Ted Hughes, her ex-husband, while she simultaneously mourns this final loss of her father.

The emotions conveyed still echo with a sense of what her father must have meant to her, such as when she refers to his dead body being carried away in a body-bag as a "bag full of God" (line 8) and when she laments, "I used to pray to recover you." Her father died at a time when she was so attached to him, and yet hadn't had enough time to get to know him. He was ripped from her grasp before she had time to break away on her own. The harsh resentment felt by the speaker is not directed at her father, but rather at the failed replacement, Tom Hughes. She describes her suicide attempt at the age of 20, confessing the reasoning behind such a course of action: "At twenty I tried to die/ And get back, back, back to you" (lines 58-59).

Ted Hughes doesn't appear...