Sylvia Plath's Two Dads

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, having been abandoned by husband Ted Hughes, was living alone with her two children in an apartment formerly occupied by William Butler Yeats. England was experiencing its most bitterly cold winter since the Year Without a Summer, and Sylvia Plath was moving incessantly toward tidying up the profound emotions that served as the driving force behind her greatest artistic expression. The ultimate expression of those conflicting emotions is found in "Daddy" - an outburst of vitriol and pained condemnation of male abandonment. Although the poem seems most obviously directed toward Plath's own father, a close examination reveals that much of the venom is aimed not at her own father, but rather at the father 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 father and her husband. The Electra Complex is a...

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