Sylvia Plath’s poems, “Full Fathom Five” and “Daddy” are both deeply personal poems which examine Plath’s relationship with her father. Clearly, many unresolved issues exist between the Plath and her father, creating tension in these two works. For example, in “Full Fathom Five” she compares her father to a fantastic old man emerging from the sea. She describes him, saying, “You float near/ As kneeled ice-mountains” (11-12); thus giving him a larger than life appearance. He seems to be domineering in comparison to the speaker, overpowering her. Yet, she seems unwilling to be parted from him. Plath asserts “Father, this thick air is murderous. I would breathe water”. Assuming that the speaker is human, one can infer that the speaker is willing to suffer under abnormal environmental conditions just to further her relationship with her father. As a result, it is difficult to discern the tone of the work in relation to her relationship with her father. One can argue that she intimidated by her father, yet she holds a certain affection for him. Contrastingly, “Daddy”, portrays her father in a different light. She seems to compare their relationship to that of Hitler and the Jews. She compares herself to a Jew, claiming she begins to “talk like a Jew” in line 34. She draws numerous parallels between her father and Hitler throughout the work, describing his “neat mustache” and “Aryan eye” (43-44). By drawing a parallels between Hitler and the Jews and she and her father, she implies that her relationship with her father is oppressive and cruel. Comparing the tone between these two works, one can debate the nature of their relationship.
What do you think that speaker’s relationship with her father?
What do you think the tone of these works says about their relationship and the tensions between father and daughter?