July 4, 2015
Love-Hate Relationship: The use of Rhyme and Metaphors in Sylvia Plath’s poem “Daddy”
The use of alliteration between “do”, “shoe”, “foot”, “Achoo” words gives us the sense that Plath is assuring that we see her as a young child figure by portraying a sense of a nursery rhyme type of the sound “oo” through the poem. Similarly, the choice of metaphors like in the first stanza when she compares herself as the woman living in a shoe; much like the nursery rhyme, ultimately allows for the reader to see the author as the young and helpless child against both the aggressive and stronger father and father figure.
By Plath using the term “Daddy” in her poem and as the title, it makes it clearer that Plath is struggling to understand fully how she feels towards her father and the father figure in her life. She seems much like a little girl needing her daddy and missing him. She felt comfortable using the nursery rhyme sounds. It could also have been the fact that Plath liked nursery rhymes and was just using something that she was comfortable and familiar with and possibly gave her a sense of comfort (https://youtu.be/g2lMsVpRh5c). This is apparent when she says “I used to pray to recover you” (line 14) and then says “I have always been scared of you” (line 41). It is rather confusing how she truly feels towards her father, but that seems to be the theme of the poem. Yet, Plath puts her father up on a pedestal by saying he was “Marble-heavy, a bag full of God” (line 8) but then continues to describe him as a “German”, Hitler himself, a “brute”, a “Panzer man”, a “swastika”, “a devil”, “Fascist” and vampire. Mary Lynn Broe, a critical expert, explains that Plath made it more of a spectacle by approaching this “exorcism” in such a light manner and then trying to get a bit more serious later on by narrating the father in much more serious tone by going on and on about Plath’s fathers description as a German and Nazi and her as a Jew and a victim.
As a child the distance between Plath and her father was something that she wanted to change but felt he was not approachable and she was not able to speak with him when she says “I never could talk to you” (line 24). Plath then says "[t]he tongue stuck in my jaw./ It stuck in a barb wire snare" (lines 25, 26) as to explain the lack of communication between her and her father. Comparing her tongue as being trapped in a barb wire snare indicates that any effort she makes to move or get free gets her more entangled as when she tried to talk to her father, the harder it would be to actually talk to him. Not only was the effort to speak with him made harder to do, but by using the metaphor of being trapped in barb wire we can physically sense the pain it would cause as the barb wire would burry further into the skin when making an effort to get free from it or in this sense "speak" to her father. Plath uses this metaphor to compare the physical state of being trapped and the feelings of pain caused by it as well. The use of alliteration in almost every stanza was seen when the word “you” was used at least once and sometimes two to three times. This conveyed a sense of the need for Plath to reiterate that the one to blame for the way she was feeling was this man who was not only her father but also the one that represented her father figure later in life. When Plath says “At twenty I tried to die/ And get back,