Daddy as a Confessional Poem
Being abundantly reduced from a civil life, Sylvia Plath wrote the poem, ‘Daddy‘. The poem was written such a level that it almost becomes à platform of confession for the poet. The shade of her father has never been so secured for her. She has gone through a traumatic period of abundance for such a long time. The melting heart of the poet out of pathetic emotion gets a confessional treat in the poem. The poem, ‘Daddy‘ has its own flavor. First we should assess the point that what a confessional poem is. And at the same time we should also emphasis on the fact that from which perspectives we should examine a poem in the mould of confessional poetry. Actually, confessional poetry is treated on the note of individualism. The personal treatment in life is more spoken in the form. The poem in the poem utilizes all the features of a confessional poetry. The tone was metaphorically set.
This poem is remarkable for reflecting and blending the private feelings and experiences with universal and public concern. It is on account of different nationality that Plath has got so much ire against her father Otto Plath who was a German while Sylvia Plath was an American citizen. Hitler was very inimical to Americans. In the Second World War, the American fought a war very bitterly. A critic has very correctly assessed the mingling of the private feelings of Plath with the mythical and political significance of the poem Daddy.
In the last stanza of Daddy, Sylvia Plath transforms the psychological and subjective into myth, legend, folk-tale and popular narrative. The psychologically damaging and crippling – like the daughter-speaker’s Electra fixation here on the father-is transposed to the plane of a popular story-e.g. Dracula-structured on atavistic fears and also tactics of survival, i.e., driving a stake into the heart of a vampire and “freeing” it and simultaneously themselves) from the curse of being the Living Dead, and then dancing and stamping on it. At least the villagers have always known that the black man is a “devil”, “seducer”, like Dracula.
In the end, the daughter-speaker is not only at the end of all relations or dealings with an overbearing, and overpowering figure of the father, but she has also “reached the end of her discourse. It is, however, still a mute point whether the “evil spirit” has been fully exercised yet, le, whether the daughter-speaker is really “through” yet. Has the daughter-speaker, in the end, become the “author” of her own destiny, taken over at least discursive control, after “exercising” the father and his substitute? Or has she only managed to reconfirm Freud’s view that the hysteric suffers from reminiscence”?
The daughter-speaker in Daddy also suffers from amnesia or, perhaps, schizophrenia. As the excluded, or occluded, “middle” of the Oedipal triangle, the speaker’s mother should have been present in the poem; she is still there, but in absence, not presence. The daughter-speaker, in excluding the pre-Oedipal from her story, reduces it to an oft-repeated story of paternal seduction, only a pas de deal, if not folie a deux, between the daughter and her (dead) father.
However, the confessional part of the poem is most successfully abound in the poem. The most striking nature is evidently fallen in this poem, in its most personalized form. This is accomplished in the first person narrative. This is also evident in the poet’s sharing of personal memories that she experiences through the poem. The mention of the image of Black Shoe’ is more often treated on a personal level. The idea of black shoe brings in our mind the image of a shoe box.
The poet quite emphatically confesses that for the time period with her father, she has lived like in a shoe box; in such an atrocious world of dominance, she boldly calls her father a villainous and vampire that sucked the blood of the poet through ten years. A bit confessional way or approach of saying, the poet has brought that she wants freedom from that room. She wishes to liberate herself. Another, vibrant picture of confession is that she did not find enough scope to communicate with her father. So the gap remains not only in the social level but also it affects her psychological part. She has brought out in a visceral and powerful manner;
“I never could talk to you
The tongue stuck in my jaw.”
The fear in the poet’s mind ceased the verbal expression with her father.
The confessional mood is brought forth with the kind of physical imagery of, “The moment”, one feels the discomfort of speech only when she remains numb at heart by her extraneous rejection of her dominating father. She never enjoys the attachment with her father. One may thing that the mere title of the poem, “Daddy” is also framed in confessional nature. The poem does not bear any clinical title, ‘Father’. Instead it bears the title, “Daddy” which reflects a note of dependence. There commits patricide in her psychological world. She wishes to arouse the dead spirit of her father once who died. But the psychic-living memory of her father is so strong in this respect that the poet, Sylvia Plath addresses him as ‘Bastard’. The black world of Crucifixion is drawn here in this poem, ‘Daddy’. The poet seeks death.