"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.
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.
The speaker of "Daddy" is obsessed with mortality – her father's mortality, and her own. When the speaker's father dies, she sees killing herself as a way to become reunited with him. She also declares that she has to kill him. This poem explores the paradoxes of death, the afterlife, and memories of the past. After all, "Daddy" is addressed to a dead person.
The death of the speaker's father has haunted her for her entire life, causing her to seek her own death.
The speaker feels that the only way to rid herself of the haunting memories of her father is to metaphorically kill them.
As we noted under the mortality theme, "Daddy" is addressed to someone who is dead, which already makes the poem pretty supernatural. But it goes even further: there are vampires, devils, and a statue that crosses the entire United States. The speaker, when she tries to die, is even stuck back together with glue. The supernatural elements of this poem make it eerie, and fascinating to read.
The speaker of this poem's emotions are supernatural themselves – they are so complex and intense that the supernatural must be used to convey them.
The speaker's comparison of her husband and father to Hitler, vampires, and devils makes not only these men, but also Hitler, seem like a vampire and a devil.
The speaker of "Daddy" is addressing her dead father, who she had problems talking to even when he was alive. Maybe this is because he was a German immigrant and couldn't speak English well, or maybe it was because she was scared of him, but in any case, the German language plays into her difficulties. At the end of the poem, the speaker cuts off communications with her father for good. The speaker's struggle to communicate with her father causes her great suffering, demonstrating the power of language.
It's ironic that though the speaker claims that she's through with her father, she writes an 80-line poem to cut off communication with him.
The speaker expresses her inability to communicate in her father's language, German, in order to show his power over her.
Throughout "Daddy," the speaker is trapped by memories of her father. In the first stanza, she says that she feels she's been living like a foot in a shoe, a metaphor for the confinement that she's been placed in by her father and his memory. Even when she tries to marry, she's trapped into marrying someone like her father.
The father-daughter relationship in this poem is a metaphor for male-female relationships in general.
Once the speaker in this poem has escaped the confinement of her father, she ends up confined in marriage to a similar man.