According to Leonard Cohen, “If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. Poetry is just the evidence of life.” As the life of Sylvia Plath got cremated into a pile of dust, her works of poetry bloomed and grew. In addition to being an American novelist and poet, Sylvia Plath was also a wife, teacher, and mother. She was born on 27th October 1932 in Boston Massachusetts. Her father, Otto Emile Plath, was a professor at Boston University and an immigrant from Germany with majors in German and Biology. He, however, died of diabetes complications a month after Sylvia’s eighth birthday in 1940. Aurelia Schober Plath, her mother, on the other hand, was among the first generations of Austrian descent in America. During the period she was most troubled, that is, few years before her death, Sylvia Plath wrote the poem “Daddy” that is mainly about the sadness of depression. This prose and poetry by Sylvia reflect majorly on her battle that got primarily extended against despair. The poem also brought her struggles as a woman and as an artist to life. For most of her life as an adult, Sylvia Plath was clinically depressed and had numerous counts of treatment with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). She nonetheless committed suicide in 1963.
Daddy, by Sylvia Plath, contains sixteen five-line stanzas of the venomous and brutal poem that is ordinarily assumed to be mainly about Sylvia’s dead father. It still rests one of the utmost contentious poems of the modern times ever to be written. In the poem, Sylvia Plath introduces her poetry by describing her unresolved struggles mainly because her father died while she was a child. Between lines 6 through 8, she says “Daddy, I have had to kill you. / You died before I had time / Marble-heavy, a bag full of God.”(Line 6-8). She portrayed the obtainment of her freedom from oppression by the male gender. Throughout this poem, there is an existing theory that the subjects of Sylvia’s poem are her father figure and husband, Ted Hughes as well as her dead father.
It is a bizarre, dark and also painful allegory that uses devices such as rhythm that brings forth the idea of a casualty, who is a girl and frees herself from her father. There is a sense of inconsistency that is noticeable in the organization and scheme of rhyme in the poem. It uses a kind of singsong speaking way and nursery rhyme. There are repeated rhymes, short lines, and hard sounds. In stanza I, there is rhyme detected, that is, “You do not do, you do not do.” as if insisting on something. In stanzas 49 and 50, Sylvia also uses rhyme, “The boot in the face, the brute / Brute heart of a brute like you.” (Line 49 &50). It fortifies and institutes Sylvia’s status as a childlike character concerning her commanding dad. The relation is also made clear by the fact that the name she choses for him is “Daddy.” Her sounds, “oo” are also of childish rhythm.
The poem has a tone that can be described as that of an adult who has been engulfed in outrage. The outrage shown is at times slipped into a child’s sobs. From her tone of how Sylvia repeatedly calls her father daddy, it is clear that she is full of affection, consideration and unselfish love. The tone is nevertheless detected to change throughout the rest of the poem. Her tone changes to be filled with hate, anger, harshness, and rage. It is evident when Sylvia continually uses the word daddy and the repetitions like those of a child “you do not do, you do not do” and “Daddy, daddy, you bastard.” In the poem, we are made aware of the struggles she has been through mainly in the form of fear from her infancy. Sylvia writes of how she had always been scared of her daddy and how as a result of these struggles, pain, and fear, she had the urge to kill his dad (Osborne & Cedars, 2012).
Personification is the illustration of a general feature in human form and human accrediting appearances or a personal nature to something which is not rational. In Daddy, stanzas 8, 9 and 10 illustrate Sylvia personifying his dad. That is, “Marble-heavy, a bag full of God / Ghastly statue with one gray toe / Big as a Frisco seal.” In the 46th stanza, she also says, “Not God but a swastika,” about his father. In addition to this, she also compares her dad to a vampire in stanza 72 (Line 8,9,10,46 &72). These verses clearly demonstrate Sylvia’s view about her father as well as her opinion towards him.
In conclusion, the rhythms, tone, and personification discussed are well placed and intellectually used. I had not known this poem until now, though I had heard of it. Sylvia was very disturbed and in my opinion, writing a poem so personal and delicate takes bravery since one is exposing their soul and ambiance to the world. Sylvia Plath might have been a very misunderstood writer but then again, looking closely, one can make sense of her “madness.” The imagery of the poem Daddy is haunting because Sylvia had many demons to banish.