What makes this poem so striking for the reader is the theatening imagery and the tone of anger and hatred that Plath expresses. Despite the title and despite references to factual details abut her father’s life, I thnk this poem gains its power from its almost paranoid feeling s of hatred and anxiety felt by all women towards men in positions of authority – fathers, husbands, rulers – men with power. As such, it make astonsihing leaps of imagery, some of which are genuinely shocking and disturbing, and which mean that the poem can be read as a lamnet for the fear and complicated feelings that any dughter has for her father or a father –figure and also a lament for the power that men have always held over women in patriarchal sociteites.
Plath’s feeling s are complicated imagnatively in the poem bacuse her father was Austrian and emigtrated to the United Satates. Plath make use of this differrence in various references to German:
I could nver talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.
It stcuk in a barb wire snare.
And in her impassioned irrational state of mind she begins to associate his paternal authority with the atrocities of the Second World war:
I thought every German was you.
And the lanaguage obscene
An engine, an engine,
Chuffing me off to Auschwitz like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
Plath was not of Jewish descen, but these references are genuinely shocking in a poem with the endearing title ‘Daddy’ and show how chldhood fears of the father can lead to a feeling of victimization and to an obsession with father-figures who have the same charcateristics. Plath’s fatherr alsdo died whe she was eight years old, so her memories of him are confused and there is even the possin]bility that part of her hatred is because of his early abandonment of her through death. She seems also to be attracted to a similar type of man in her choice of husband:
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in balck with a Meinkampf look.
Again the references to the ideology of Hitler and the Nazis is designed to shock, but may also serve to show the histroical mistreatment of women in patriarchal societies. At the end of the poem, in order to find her freedom from his overnbearing male power she has to kill him as if he were a vampire.