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What is a short summary of Sylvia Plath's "Daddy"?

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dcruz077 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 12, 2011 at 1:22 PM via web

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What is a short summary of Sylvia Plath's "Daddy"?

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 12, 2011 at 6:55 PM (Answer #1)

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The basic summary of Plath's poem is a type of hero deflation that reflects the maturation and growth in the speaker.  The poem starts out with the idea that the speaker, presumably Plath, loved the father figure that is the subject of the poem.  The father died at a point where this worship was evident, and the poem is an attempt to resurrect the dead in order to kill it and enable her to be free.  The father figure in the poem is cast as a Nazi and the poem helps to explore the tension between loving people in our lives who do things that cannot be loved.  The tension between father and daughter is revealed in a victim/ subject dynamic, using the Holocaust as part of this.  In doing so, Plath is able to bring out the personal pain within a political event and elevate a private relationship to a politicized realm.  There is much in way of the victimizer/ victim dynamic also present in this relationship, helping to enhance the destructive nature of the bond between both.  Plath's poem presents several images and exploration on this level.  The ending of this poem brings out this forceful nature of killing and release from the bond that connects both of them with the notion of "I'm through."  The use of "bastard" in this also reflects how there is a fragmentation evident only to find some type of spiritual liberation from this relationship.

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