Daddy as an Autobiographical Poem
The poem, Daddy was composed by Sylvia Plath in October 1962. In tone an temperament the poem is purely autobiographical. During the last phase she had become disillusion with love and Ted Hughes. By this time Ted Hughes has separated himself from Sylvia Plath. After their marriage in 1956, Ted Hughes and Plath lived in America for some time. They stayed for two years up to 1959. Later on they developed hostility for each other. By that time Sylvia Plath had been blessed with two children and she began to live in a separate house in London. Their relations became as estranged that she committed suicide in 1963. The suicide was the result of her embittered feelings and frustration. It was just before such tragic conditions that she wrote the poem “Daddy“.
In this poem, Plath deals with the theme of father’s fixation. Plath has preserved the memory of her dead father for a very long time that she felt the need to get rid of him, Daddy is the most terrible and the blackest of her poems.
Her father Otto Plath, a German by nationality, was a great scholar of Biology and German language of Boston University. He was well versed in classical languages. Plath’s parents were Austrian immigrants.
Sylvia Plath was born in 1932. She was quite fond of her father and she worshiped him like a hero.
Her father’s death in 1942 was her first ever encounter with death and all her life she remained obsessed with death in some form or the other. She had a colossal admiration and deep faith in her father. She felt unbelievably attracted towards death because she felt that she could join her father by gateway of death. She also thought that she could get rid of the weary demands of her frustrated life.
Her father is always present as a worshipful deity in her poetry. Sometimes she is angry with him or sometimes she is pleased with him.
In this poem “Daddy“, the father figure is modeled on Otto Plath. She portrays her father larger than actual life. In this poem, there is mixture of love and hate for her father. The first four stanzas give us the emotions of Sylvia Plath towards her father.
“You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe…
Daddy, I have had to kill you”
The poem, Daddy, sums up the family experiences of Plath right from her birth in 1932 to her death in Feb., 1963. This poem was written just before she committed suicide. The beauty of the poem lies in the fact that her private experiences are universally applicable. Here is strong public interest in the poem. For example, in the fifth stanza onwards up to the 10th stanza there is the description of Plath’s early life in Polisth Town of Grabous, from where he migrated to Austria.
In the next five stanzas, Sylvia Plath describes the Nazi temper of her father Otto Plath. The Nazi has no faith in the existence of cross of God. As they had impressive devotion to their symbol Swastic which was imprinted in black colour. Plath thinks that every woman worships a Fascist. They treat men and women with brutish force. Plath believes that her father had cruel heart. Then Plath describes the death of her father when she was ten years old. At the age of twenty, in 1952 she made an attempt to commit suicide. In the above stanzas, Plath has described her strong dislike for Nazi discipline and her hatred for German regimentation.