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Daddy, Vampires, Black Hearts

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In the poem "Daddy", Sylvia Plath says that there are women who, due to

early conditioning, find themselves without the tools to deal with oppressive and

controlling men. They are left feeling helpless and hopeless. For some women, the

struggle is never resolved, others take most of a lifetime. For a lucky few, they are

granted a reprieve.

The speaker in this poem is Sylvia Plath. The poem describes her feelings of

oppression and her battle to come to grips with the issues of this power imbalance.

The poem also conjures the struggle many women face in a male dominated society.

The conflict of this poem is male authority and control versus the right of a

female to be herself, to make choices, and be free of male domination. Plath's

conflicts begin in her relationship with her father and continues with her husband.

The intensity of this conflict is extremely apparent as she uses examples that cannot

be ignored. The atrocities of NAZI' Germany are used as symbols of the horror of

male domination. The constant and crippling manipulation of the male, as he

introduces oppression and hopelessness into the lives of his women, is equated with

the twentieth century's worst period. Words such as Luftwaffe, panzerman, and

Meinkampf look are used to descibe her father and husband as well as all male

domination. The frequent use of the word black throughout the poem conveys a

feeling of gloom and suffocation.

Like many women in society, we know that Plath felt oppressed and stifled

throughout her life by her use of the simile "I have lived like a shoe for thirty years

poor and white, barely able to breath or Achoo." The use of similes and metaphors

such as "Chuffing me off like a Jew. A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belson." and "I

think I may well be a Jew" clearly shows the feelings of anguished hopelessness

and the ripping agony she must have felt. The agelessness of this poem is

guaranteed as there will always be women who feel the same torture that is

described. .

Strong images are conveyed throughout the poem. The words "marble-

heavy, a.bag full of God" conveys the omniscience of her father's authority and the

heaviness it weighed on her throughout her life. "The vampire who said he was you,

and drank my blood for a year, seven years if you want to know" describe



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