How does Sylvia Plath's poem "Daddy" depict a divided self?

Sylvia Plath's poem "Daddy" depicts a divided self by presenting great emotional conflict on the part of the narrator regarding her father's memory. One part of her still refers to him affectionately, clinging to the endearing childhood title of "Daddy." The other part of her persona is ready to be "through" with the man who is portrayed with Nazi imagery and has a "fat black heart."

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A divided self struggles with the conflict of two competing forces. The divided self is evident in Sylvia Plath's poem "Daddy."

First, it is important to note the familiar and affectionate term that is the title of the poem. Plath chooses to use the term Daddy ,...

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A divided self struggles with the conflict of two competing forces. The divided self is evident in Sylvia Plath's poem "Daddy."

First, it is important to note the familiar and affectionate term that is the title of the poem. Plath chooses to use the term Daddy, which connotes warmth and tenderness, juxtaposing the phrase with shocking action:

Daddy, I have had to kill you.

The juxtaposition reflects a fractured sense of self, torn between adoration and vengeance. She further explains that she has always been "scared" of her father; she portrays him with imagery that reflects a decidedly Nazi presence and indicates that she herself may be "a bit of a Jew," representing the very thing he hates.

Yet she believes that "every woman adores a Fascist," somehow constantly seeking, against all reason, the brutal treatment from a "brute" just like her father. Despite her father's brutality and her own fear of him, part of the speaker's heart longs to be with her father, who died when she was only ten:

I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

Here is perhaps the most compelling evidence of the divided self. The contradictory need to be "through" with her father's memory and the overwhelming pain she feels because of his absence creates a suicidal persona. Even after being "stuck ... together with glue" following her suicide attempt, the speaker creates "a model" of her father, complete with a "Meinkampf look."

The divided self longs to be reconciled, and the speaker claims to find this reconciliation at the poem's conclusion, asserting that she is "finally through" with her father. Yet the passion with which she conveys the way others "dance" and "stamp" on her father's "fat black heart" seems to indicate that the speaker still holds too much emotional intensity to actually present a portrait of reconciliation.

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