That said, the poem gains its most sinister and perhaps most powerful energies from deeply autobiographical confession. That “Daddy” was written by Plath as an exercise in personal catharsis, as well as a lyric poem meant to excite large audiences, is obvious. The lines which seemingly abruptly refer to San Francisco: “Ghastly statue with one gray toe / Big as a Frisco Seal / And a head in the freakish Atlantic. ” identify the daddy in the poem “as a colossus who stretches across America from the Atlantic to the Pacific–a colossus even larger than the one described in “The Colossus.
” These seemingly obscure details are in fact references to Plath’s father: the “Ghastly statue with one gray toe” is Otto Plath’s gangrenous leg, and San Francisco Bay is where he conducted his research on muscid larvae. ” (Plath 194). The poem’s narrative arc foreshadows suicide in the poem’s opening lines, and repeats the affirmation of suicide in the lines “At twenty I tried to die/ And get back, back, back to you.? I thought even bones would do.
” Thus, suicide becomes the implicit form of revenge with the “stake” in Daddy’s “fat black heart” being the stake of death— and the poet’s death as an act of revenge and personal empowerment.
Annas, Pamela J. A Disturbance in Mirrors: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988. Plath, Sylvia. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. New York NY Anchor Books. 2000. Plath, Sylvia The Collected Poems New York NY: HarperPerennial 1992. Malcolm, Janet. The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.