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Sylvia Plath in her poem "Daddy" describes how she truly felt about her late father. In the whole poem she describes many situations that led to her having such strong feelings of hatred towards her father. Even though she hated her father so much, she could not tell him to his face because she feared him so much during his childhood and this comes out clearly in the poem. Unfortunately, her father dies when she is still young and she wishes he would have lived long enough for her to have her revenge. In an effort to avenge her father's evils, she marries a man who has a similar character to her father. Hatred in Sylvia Plath's poem "Daddy" is developed through the strong use of imagery, symbolism and powerful speech.
Imagery is used heavily in the poem to show the writer's hatred towards her father. The writer uses various images to describe her father and shows just how much hate she felt towards her father. Images such as devil, vampire, Nazi and God have been employed throughout the poem. The combination of all these images brings out the powerful emotion of hatred and more reasons why the writer wanted to take revenge against her father. As a young child in the beginning of the poem the writer feared her father so much that he compared him to God, "a bag full of God / ghastly statue with one gray toe" (8-9). From the quote, the speaker tells us that even thou her father was all powerful he had a defect, depicted by the one gray toe that he had. The writer compares her father to a Nazi who treats her like a Jew. Her father hated her so much that she did not feel like his own family. She shared a relationship of an oppressor and an oppressed person with her father. The writer relates her suffering to the oppression camps in which the Jews were kept during the Nazi rule in Germany. "A Jew, to Dachan," (29). She felt trapped and confined with so much hatred that led to her rejection of the German language. She felt that the language was harsh and obscene and therefore could not relate to anything that her father was. It would not have been possible for the writer to bring out the evil side of her father and therefore enough reason why she hated him without employing the use of imagery in her poem.
The writer uses symbolism in her work to explain further her father's character. We learn that her father died when she was still a young girl and she regrets this occurrence because it denied her chance to teach him a lesson, "I was ten when they buried you,"(48) In that same regard, she decided to marry a man who was exactly like her father. Her husband in this case is used to symbolize her late abusive father due to their similarities in character as it is noted from these lines, "I knew what to do / made a model of you" (54-55). Her husband was a true replica of her father and she derived so much pleasure in killing him. The writer uses the word vampire to symbolize the evil character of her husband which was same as her father's. She goes ahead to symbolize the suffering she went through by mentioning that her husband drank her blood for seven years, "the vampire / drank my blood" (63-64). The symbolic killing of the husband which the writer sees as killing of her father just shows how the writer felt that both men were similar. "I have killed one man, I have killed two" (62). After killing her husband, the writer felt victorious for once and she declared that she was even with her father. The symbols used in this poem highlight the feeling of hated that the writer felt towards her father. The hatred would not have come out clearly without using symbols such as the vampire which shows a high degree of evil in one's character and personality.
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Strong speech has been used by the writer to show her emotions. The writer felt a lot of hatred for her father and used very strong words to bring this out clearly. When he describes how her father used to treat her, she says, "chuffing me like a Jew" (28). Her father made her feel like an outcast and she compares this feeling to the oppressive life of Jews during the Nazi rule in Germany. The writer feared her father so much and therefore could not approach him as a child. She does not call her father mighty but chooses to describe him as, "marble heavy, a bag full of God" (8). The use of strong speech here shows the intensity of the writer's feelings of hate and fear.
Sylvia Plath used various stylistic devices in her poem to express very strong emotions. The main theme in this poem is hatred which the writer feels towards her father. Other themes such as fear also come out clearly when the writer talks about her early childhood. There is also an element of pity when you read through the poem. Although the writer decides to revenge her father's evils in a rather strange way of murdering her husband, one cannot help but fell pity about the writer's troubled childhood. 'Daddy' is a very captivating poem which would have been otherwise had the writer not employed the use of imagery, symbolism and strong speech.