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by Sylvia Plath

Daddy Theme of Gender

"Daddy" is not only an exploration of the speaker's relationship with her father and husband, but of women's relationships with men in general. It was written in the 1960s, a time when feminists fought for women's rights and made big progress in the way that gender was viewed in society. Though this poem does not address feminism blatantly, it is a powerful statement from a female against males. It's not limited to addressing one male, but any male who has suppressed, betrayed, or, perhaps worst of all, died and left behind their daughters and wives.

Questions About Gender

  1. How would this poem be different if it was written to a father from a son instead of a daughter? What about written from a daughter to a mother?
  2. How does the speaker make this poem about men in general instead of just her father?
  3. Do you think the speaker is so vicious towards her father because he was a bad person, or because she is sad that he died?
  4. How do you think the feminist movement affects this poem?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The imagery in this poem is conflicted, showing that the speaker's emotions towards her father are hateful, but also mournful.

This poem applies to all men, and not just the speaker's father, because of the metaphors and imagery that connect both the father and the husband to violence and war.

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