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Fathers In Poetry (Theodore Roetheke V. Sylvia Plath)

9 Pages 2214 Words

Fathers in Poetry: Immortalizing vs. Destroying Their Memory
Everyone=s relationship with their father is different. Some idolize them, while others resent. And often these feelings exist regardless of the father=s faults. Two poems that demonstrate this well are ADaddy@ by Sylvia Plath and AMy Papa=s Waltz@ by Theodore Roethke. Both deal with the relationships the authors and their fathers had in light of the father=s faults, but aside from this the poems could hardly be more different.
In ADaddy,@ Plath=s father is cold and unfeeling. Despite her best efforts, she cannot win his love. He is the Nazi to her Jew, and cannot accept anyone as inherently flawed as she. Plath realizes after thirty years that she will never come to terms with her father=s coldness and uses her poem to Akill@ his memory. Conversely, Roethke=s father in AMy Papa=s Waltz@ is robust and friendly, if only because he is intoxicated. Roethke seems to adore this father who would come home at night to romp with him before bed; thus, his poem comes across as less of an accusation and more of a fond memory of a flawed but loving parent.

ADaddy@ is a murder of sorts. Plath is tired of being oppressed by her father long after his death, and attempts in this poem to kill his memory. This is evident when she states ADaddy, I have had to kill you,/ You died before I had time--@ (lines 6-7). What Plath means is that she is forced to kill his memory, since he died before she could kill his person. With this piece, Plath is (in theory) free of her father just as if she=d really physically slain him. Evidence for this includes the lines AYou do not do, you do not do/ Any more, black shoe@ (lines 1-2), ADaddy, I have had to kill you@ (line 6), and ASo daddy, I=m finally through@ (line 68). Plath=s father has no more influence over her; his Ablack shoe@ is useless to control her since she has chosen to be through with him. Roethke, however, seems intent upon...

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