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Literature - I stand here ironing & Teenage Wasteland - Essay Example

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Sylvia Plath composed her most famous—and infamous—poem “Daddy” at a time in her life when she must certainly have been contemplating suicide, or at the very least was in the grip of a devastating depression. At this point Plath, abandoned by husband Ted Hughes, was…
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Literature - I stand here ironing & Teenage Wasteland
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Download file to see previous pages The ultimate expression of those conflicting emotions are expressed in “Daddy” in an outburst of vitriol and pained condemnation of male abandonment. Although the poem seems most obvious on its literal level to be directed toward Plath’s own father, a close examination reveals that much of the venom is directed not toward her own daddy, but to the daddy of her children, her husband Ted Hughes, whom Plath confused as a reincarnated version of her father in vampire form.
The Electra Complex is at the center of the poem as Plath works to intertwine the figures of her own father and her husband. The Electra Complex is a psychological term to describe what is most easily explained as the female equivalent of the Oedipus Complex in which a daughter comes to view her father as the first sexual attraction in her life and then proceeds to repress those feelings only to have them subconsciously bubble to the surface in the form of falling in love with a man who reminds her of her father. The poet herself stated that the poem is about a woman (presumably herself) who seems to have an Electra Complex regarding her father that she cannot entirely admit to. Further blurring the line between father and husband is that both men would abandon her; startlingly, Plath’s relationship with both men lasted almost the exact same length of time. Plath’s father died when she was just eight year old and her suicide came roughly the same amount of time after first meeting Hughes. The primary difference, of course, is that as an eight year old child, Sylvia barely had time to know and understand her father. For that reason, the real focus of the vehemence in the poem must certainly be her husband, who acts as a substitute for the father she never knew.
The first half of the poem sets the stage for her look back toward a literal representation of her father that will shortly transform into the symbolic representation of Ted ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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