Plath's father died when she was eight, and the poet herself stated that the poem is about a woman (presumably herself) who is plagued by an Electra complex regarding her father that she cannot entirely admit to. The Electra complex is the female equivalent of the Oedipus complex, and involves a girl wanting to make love to her own father.
This theme of unrequited love and hatred is reflected within the language of the poem that starts with two seemingly enigmatic lines: "You do not do, you not do/ Any more, black shoe" (Plath, 1-2), and continues with the fact that she has had to wear this "shoe" for thirty years, The "shoe" in this case is apparently Plath's life which, as a reader today knows, she is about to end. The second stanza starts with two lines that are both shocking and yet ironic, as Plath states that "Daddy, I have had to kill you./ You died before I had time." (Plath, 6-7). Plath casts a decidedly modern context upon the age-old conflict between parents and children. In the modern age the father has died before his time and so Plath essentially has to "kill" him through the words of her poetry.
The image of Germany and eventually of Nazism appears with the end of the third stanza and the inclusion of "ach, du", which translates to "ah, you". Much of the rest of the poem explores this "daddy as Nazi and Sylvia s Jew" context in a number of ways. She first imagines that her father looks at least a little like Hitler, "and you neat moustache, / and you Aryan eye, bright blue", and continues with the remarkable assertion of a kind of sexual obsession with the man.
Thus Plath states:
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute,
Brute heart of a brute like you.
According to Plath women are turned on in some manner by the kind of cruelty exhibited by this kind of man. Near to the middle of the poem she states that there is a normality to this vision of "daddy", so he has "ac left in your chin instead of your foot", showing that he looks like a normal human being rather than a cloven-hoofed devil.
Plath's previous suicide attempt is linked to her Daddy, as well as the fact that she may have been raped. Her attempt to kill her self at twenty was, according to the poem, an attempt to "get back, back, back to you." The repetition of the word "back" shows how futile the attempt was but how it still is a constant matter within her mind. If Daddy, along with the other poems in the book "Ariel" can be seen as a kind of extended suicide note, then this central part of the poem suggests that part of the reason for her death may have been this longing to be with her father.
Of course going backwards in time is possible, so Plath takes the next bets thing, "I thought even the bones would do". As the poem nears an end, Plath starts to compare her father to a vampire, stating that "if I've killed one man, I've killed to." This can be explained by the fact that a vampire, in order to be a vampire, must have once died. Then, if one kills the vampire, he has been killed twice. The last stanza of the poem takes the reader into a vampire novel or film in which the "villagers never liked you" and have put a "stake in you fat black heart".
The final line of the poem, "daddy, daddy, you