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Conflict of Hate and Love in “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath
In the poem ‘Daddy’ Sylvia Plath is a young child who lost her father at an early age. As a young child, she used this poem to express the intense emotions she felt during her father’s life and death. Plath both fiercely hates and passionately loves her father. She establishes love with her father after seeing him as God during her childhood (Bloom, 7). In addition, she develops dire need to be part of love and to be loved. Contrary, the hate establishes from a powerful, inherent fear she felt towards him (Brain, 3). Seeing her unanswered feelings for her father as the core of all her suffering and pain, she is trying to free herself from the influence of her father (Bloom, 8). She also compared these times with the horrible relationship she shared with her husband.
As Sylvia Plath grew older with a broader sense of understanding, she realizes that the qualities her father possessed was nothing better than that of Nazi, Adolf Hitler and a vampire. Sylvia Plath the narrator of the poem, ‘Daddy’ lived with her possessive father. She was in a relationship with her father, where she felt captive, could not open her mouth to say a word. Like her tongue was struck in her jaw. She felt like a dictator, who she considered to be like Nazi of Germany, a vampire and Adolf Hitler, governed her. Now, Plath is on a journey in search of a sense of belongingness, love and security. She falls in love with her husband, only to discover, that he is a replica of her father.
Plath lived a harsh life, a life that she presently considers inhumane. That life was driven by violence and destruction. Two men victimized her, whom she thought would shield her from the world’s corruption, unfortunately not. As Sylvia evolves into an adult, she realizes that her childhood days were gone and would never regain. The joy, fun and amusement were never part of her life. She wanted a patriarchal figure and she indulged into marriage with a man that she wished she had killed.
Plath describes her father as a bag full of God and a ghastly statue. Therefore, he considers his father as the most valuable individual in her life like her God (Bloom, 9). In addition, he is a statue who controls over her life and demands her complete devotion. The words used to explain her father character between awe-filled and spiteful. In this respect, Sylvia has confused feelings for her father revolving from hatred to love (Brain, 8). The death of her father during her childhood left Plath with no option to understand her opposing feeling for her father or his inevitable attachment over her (Bloom, 10). The confusion forms the benchmark of her suffering and pain in her later years.
When Sylvia grows old, she develops a new perspective concerning her father: “not God but a swastika”. Therefore, she relates the association with her father as that of a Nazi and a Jew during the Second World War. She compares herself as the victim (Jew) while his father is the tormentor (Hitler) (Bloom, 7). In this respect, she is afraid of her father in the same way a Jew feared the Nazi’s leader Adolf Hitler during the Holocaust. Plath feels much agony because of her inability to be free of her father’s domination (Brain, 9). Besides, her hatred of her increases as the Hitler-Jew scenario become more evident. As she notes, “I thought every German was you…an engine chuffing me off like a Jew (Bloom, 11). She also describes that she will begin to talk like a Jew and she may become like one. Plath is very overwhelmed by her suffering that she compares herself with historical greatest sufferers, the Jews during the Holocaust.
Although she identifies herself with the suffering of the Jews, Sylvia shows her conflict ideas of hatred and loving her own father. After carefully describing her treatment under her father applying the Jew-Nazi metaphor, she notes that every female loves a fascist and the boot in the face and a brute heart (Bloom, 13). Therefore, this demonstrates that though she is afraid of her father she is still desperate for his love and care (Brain, 13). In addition, she feels her determination to take in any form even if it means through cruelty and pain.
In the last stanzas of her poem, she attempts to get a way to eliminate her father’s attachment on her. For instance, she attempts to commit suicide as an approach to terminate her suffering and join her father. She “thought even the bone would rejoin with her father.” (Bloom, 17) Plath is in dire need of her father to a point that she is willing to commit suicide in order to be with him. However, she fails in her attempt to commit suicide. Besides, Sylvia develops new approaches in order to run away from her father’s domination. She informs her father how she runs away from him. In this respect, she describes how she made a model of him (Brain, 14). She describes how she made a man in black with a Meinkampf and a love of the rack and the screw and she said, “I do”. Therefore, she married a man who is similar to her father.
Additionally, the relationship with the man is similar to the relationship she had with her father. However, she describes her husband as a vampire who has been sucking her blood for more than seven years. Similar, the word vampire refers to both her father and her husband (Brain, 14). A vampire is classified as a living dead. Although her father is dead, his effects are still alive in her soul and mind. Consequently, she permits herself to be dominated by her husband since he shares several characteristics with her father (Riegel, 7). In this respect, Sylvia has married her father.
At the time she lives her husband behind after seven years, Plath feels that she has left his father behind. In her view, she thinks that she has modeled her father in the image of her husband (Brain, 20). Sylvia tells her dead father, that he can lie back now because there is a stake in his fat black heart. At this point, she compares her father to the living dead and a vampire that has haunted her life even after his death.
At the time she is leaving her husband, Sylvia is undertaking her opposing emotions over the dominating father she never had an opportunity to outgrow. The hate and love are through as she describes, that she is finally through. She calls her father a bastard as she concludes her poem (Bloom, 18). All the suffering and pain Sylvia has gone through from her extreme hate-love relationship with her father has ended ultimately.
Sylvia Plath’s father passes away when she is only ten year old. Contrary to other children, she is unable to break away from domination of her father when she is mature. She compares her father with Hitler against Jews victims during Holocaust (Riegel, 13). Her father dies when Sylvia is ten and attempts to join him in his death at twenty. However, when that failed, she was glued back together. In her life, she marries a husband who has similar characteristics with her father. However, she feels both her husband and father are like a vampire and they make her life difficult. In this respect, she tries to commit suicide unsuccessfully (Riegel, 19). In her marriage, she feels disturbed and unsatisfied with her husband because of his father love-hate relationship.
Bloom, Harold. Sylvia Plath. 1st ed. New York: Bloom’s Literary Criticism, 2007. Print.
Brain, Dr Tracy. The Other Sylvia Plath. 1st ed. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2014. Print.
Riegel, Christian. Responce To Death. 1st ed. Edmonton, Alberta: The University of Alberta Press, 2003. Print.