Sylvia Plath, an American poet, confessional writer, an intelligent, though emotional sufferer of depression, and ultimately, a bipolar suicidal, is more famous and recognized in death, than ever in life. Her death brought new and deeper meaning to her poetry, which provided an extremely profound and emotional insight into Plath’s innermost feelings and thoughts.
Plath used her poetry to explore and to figure out her own life, but she was ever-haunted by the death of her father when she was 8, and by her husband, Ted Hughes, who both caused her a high degree of emotional distress. It is this, though, this resulted in the powerful, intense, and sensitive poems, which have allowed, or even encouraged Plath to release her inner-most self, and hence, to free herself from the oppression and the metaphorical cage that the memory of her father had trapped her in.
“Daddy”, one of Plath’s most famous poems, and “Ariel”, the title poem of Plath’s second book of poetry, are two important stepping stones on Plath’s path to freedom. Through this expression is of not just her life, but her innermost being, she is able to confront her relationship with her father, whom she both loves with a passion and hates with an intensity, and release herself from his grip.
That Plath “uses poetry to deal with her life” is, I think, quite evident in the poem “Daddy”. In this emotionally intense poem, she explains how her father followed his beliefs with a Nazi-like fervour, putting his faith before his family, and how as a result of this (and his following death) she, like Jews under the Nazi regime, has been trapped and oppressed, and has been forced to live with his shadow looming overhead and the highly charged, mixed emotions she feels for him. Now she is trying to break free and reject her father, and in doing so she defiantly and strongly uses “Daddy” to help her deal with her life.
The poem itself is actually very childish in nature, with references like
“black shoe” and “lived like a foot”
drawing one’s memory back to the childhood rhyme of “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe”, and the use of the word
to describe a train, a word used commonly in children’s books about trains. The words