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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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I'm no Plath scholar, but reading "Daddy" makes me sympathetic rather than otherwise to Otto Plath. Anyone who writes a book called Bumblebees and Their Ways can't be all bad - but also, Sylvia Plath equating her bad relationship with her father (who was far from being a Nazi) with the experience of a Holocaust victim being taken to the death camp seems pretty grotesque. Is it meant to be? Is that part of the point of the poem, that its voice is overblown, damaged, out of control, narcissistic - childish indeed? Perhaps, but it seems to be taken at face value in many readings, and the possibility that Otto Plath might not deserve his immortalization as the equivalent of Hitler gets little consideration.

As I say, I'm no Plath scholar: it's entirely possible that these points are now orthodox.

I don't know, I read that poem, and there's such a depth of anger and hatred--and self-hatred there--that I cannot help but wonder if Plath had experienced some kind of sexual abuse at the hands of her father. I have no evidence and I'm no Plath scholar either, but the tone and the language sounds familiar to me, like other accounts I have read.

Leaving that aside, I have a parent whose mother had a personality disorder. I don't think I will ever understand the depth of the misery my mom suffered and still does. If Otto Plath was anything like that...I can understand the poem.

It's hard to say, isn't it? I think we have to wonder, but in the absence of evidence, or even an accusation, we can't do more. A demanding, emotionally distant father who then absents himself abruptly and permanently by dying might be another explanation for the attitude of anger and betrayal to which the poem bears witness. There are too many unknown unknowns.