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Both of these incredible poems take the subject of Plath's relationship with her father, who died when she was eight. "The Colossus" is much tamer in its presentation of her father compared to "Daddy," as we will discover. The title of this poem immediately makes us think of the Ancient Greeks and one of the seven wonders of the world, whilst also indicating the immensity of the topic for the poet. The poem begins with Plath trying to communicate with her father through poetry. The way that her father is still such an important figure to her is made clear by the way that the speaker says her "hours are married to shadow." In trying to piece together the various remnants of her father's presence, she clearly wants to enjoy a relationship with him again and to hear his words of widsom and consolation. Yet at the same time, the poem begins by recognising the way that this is an impossible task:
I shall never get you put together entirely,
Pieced, glued, and properly jointed.
Some critics have pointed towards the way that the father literally lies in pieces throughout the poem as suggesting a profound ambivalence concerning the poet's feeling for her father. She seems to want to become reunited with him, but the way he is strewn around the stanzas perhaps indicate anger at some level for having left her when she was so young.
If "The Colossus" is ambivalent, it is obvious that there is no such ambivalence in "Daddy" regarding the speaker's father. This poem treats the father figure as one to be feared and that needs to be raged against, as is shown by the controversial way Plath equates him with a Nazi:
I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat moustache,
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
The poem seems to represent the daughter's awareness of the unhealthy fascination she has had with her father and the negative consequences of such an obsession. This poem is her attempt to escape all of this and move on in her life. Thus it is that this poem resurrects her father in some kind of tremendous emotional rollercoaster, where the speaker is able to address him and express her frustration and anger at the way that his figure has curtailed her life even after his death. The final line of the poem, "Daddy, you bastard, I'm through," indicates the end of this tirade and hopefully the speaker's success in moving on in life.
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