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Analysis of the Main Theme in the Poem “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath

I believe that freedom is the main theme in the poem “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath. Freedom from the oppression caused by the speaker’s father as she tried to free herself. The speaker shows how the father controls her life in every manner during her childhood when the father was alive, and even after his death, and shows the stained relationship between them (Poetry Foundation, 1999b). This essay examines how freedom from oppression is the poem’s main theme as it discusses the speaker’s experiences during her childhood. Also, it will illustrate how Plath, the speaker, demonstrates this theme throughout the poem.

According to the first stanza, Plath clearly shows how she struggles with her father’s dominance. She clearly shows how strained their relationship was and the lack of freedom she had. She compares her father to a “black shoe” and herself to the foot, which is “poor and white.” Plath felt suffocated for thirty years, as she had been trapped in that shoe, “barely daring to breathe or Achoo.” This suffocation led to her hatred towards her father and the strained relationship that made her think of killing her father (Poetry Foundation, 1999b). His dying seemed like the only way at that time to free herself from the domination of her father. Also, fear builds up in her, which is very extreme as she fears breathing when around her father and further refers to him as a “bag full of God.”

The speaker seems relieved as she shows no pin of loss after her father’s death. She even thought of killing him, saying, “Daddy, I had to kill you.” His death took place before she could kill him, relieving herself from her father’s troubles. She feels like “metal heavy” has been offloaded from her (Poetry Foundation, 1999b). She also compares her father to a statue hence showing that she felt no sorrow or pain after losing her dad. She reaches the feeling of relives from the death of her father to the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and its amazing scenery. This shows the speaker’s hatred.

Analysis of the main theme in the poem “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath

towards her father, and at last, her troubles have ended. She refers to him as a blood-sucking vampire and a “bastard” who dictated many things in her life “You do not, you do not,” hence living under his shadow (Poetry Foundation, 1999b). Around the father, the speaker felt very uneasy. This is seen as she refers to it as “barb snare wire,” in which she can hardly speak or move. From the fourth stanza, as Plath tries to find the father’s origin, she finds out that he came from a “Polish town” with a German tongue. Later on, she says that she thought that every German was him. It is, therefore, clear that every time she was close to the father, the only words that would come out of her mouth were “ich ich ich,” which is a German would for “I, I, I,” which she got from her father’s language. Due to the father’s influence on her language, the speaker feels like a Jew. This is metaphoric as she compares herself to be facing oppression like the Jews met a long time ago, and his father was one of the German oppressors. This shows that the oppression was unbearable and heavy on her.

The relationship between the father and the daughter has been described as a phone call. Plath is very happy to have ended the relationship with her father due to his death, and even though she married a person who felt like her dad due to the torture she got, she feels more relieved. She says she is “finally through” and has finished mourning her father’s death and can now move on, as he has caused a lot of grief on her (Poetry Foundation, 1999b). Not only did Plath not like the father, but also did the villagers. This is his “fat black heart.” After his death, all villagers danced, celebrated, and stamped on him, showing that Plath’s father was a problem for the whole village. He shared his male dominance with everyone, especially the women. They felt to be captives and lacked the freedom to do anything as he would dictate many things, and also, they had fear among them.

Plath’s dad was like a God. She explains this by saying how he was a “swastika,” which is a big giant. She says he was so big that he would cover the entire sky. She sarcastically says he is a “fascist” and that all women like her (Poetry Foundation, 1999b). He was brutal, filled with unnecessary violence, hence the feeling of captivity.

In conclusion, Plath faced a lot of male domination from his father, and so did the neighbors. This domination felt more like oppression as she lacked the freedom to do anything around her father. Even though Plath disliked the brutality and the captivity she felt from her father, she ended up marrying someone just like him. This shows that women are a slave of their own identity and their actions.


Poetry Foundation. (1999b). Daddy by Sylvia Plath | Poetry Foundation.


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