Perhaps the most striking similarity between both poems is the fact that both poets allude to Nazi imagery in order to exemplify the unresolved imagery they face. To define love and evil Achebe uses the atrocities done by the ‘Commandant at Belsen camp’, a human who used to return to his ‘tender offspring’ everyday even after murdering thousands of innocent Jews. Similarly Plath uses the inhuman acts of the Nazis to symbolise male domination and more specifically the female oppression she felt under the hands of her father and her husband.
Within the poem both poets attempt to define love and evil by analogy to the Nazis. Achebe uses atrocities done by the ‘commandant at Belsen camp’ to define evil whereas Plath uses her ‘German’ father who was a ‘fascist’ and her husband with a ‘Meinkampf look’ to provide a visual representation of evil and to investigate the oppression she felt under such men.
Both poets are trying to communicate their frustration and anger; Plath is frustrated with her father and Achebe is frustrated with the evil in society. Plath uses the first person to emphasize her total exasperation with her father. Words such as ‘So’ and ‘Finally’ convey how she feels definitive about her overcoming her father’s memory. However we feel it is obvious that this is not true and she remained haunted by her father until she committed suicide. Achebe is in ‘despair’ as he feels that love is no longer able to combat ‘evil’ within society.
Both poets isolate words to express their confusion about the concept of love and evil. Achebe isolates the word ‘Strange’ to highlight the contrast between the evil of the ‘vulture’ and the love that attempts to overcome evil. Similarly, in order to define her confusion when communicating with her father she isolated the German pronoun ‘Ich’ to show how much of a struggle it was to communicate with her father, yet alone to have a relationship with him.
Both the oppressors within both poems were fathers with a particularly authorative position. Plath’s father was a professor at a university which is clearly displayed in the poem; ‘You Stand at the Blackboard Daddy’ whilst the oppressor in the poem ‘Vultures’ was a ‘Commandant’. Both of these authority figures should have set a good example o their children but instead committed atrocities. As a result Plath grew up to hate her father whilst the ‘Commandant’ became a hypocrite towards his children.
Both poets appeal to a greater being (God) in order to overcome their tyranny. Plath would pray to this greater being ‘to recover’ her father whilst Achebe is praising ‘Bounteous Providence’ to keep love within society to combat evil. This shows that they have given up hope that anyone on Earth can eradicate the negativity in their lives.
Both poets use mythical and horrific monsters to depict evil. Plath uses ‘a vampire’ to evoke how the bloodsucking monsters, her ‘Daddy’ and her husband, weakened her as they slowly drained all the life out of her. Similarly Achebe uses an ‘ogre’, a creature who potentially embodies no good, to illustrate that love ( a ‘tiny glow-worm) can immerse itself in such a despicable being.
In order to emphasize the ultimate frustration and anger of each poet in relation to their struggles, they use explicit language such as ‘bastard’ and ‘evil’. Achebe tries to combine love and evil throughout his poem, in the end he is resigned to the fact that ‘evil’ will perpetuate. Equally, Plath struggles to express her confused emotions towards the males who have oppressed females, particularly her father. In the end she is lost for words and resorts to using the expletive ‘bastard’ to summarize her anger.
There are also many differences throughout both poems. In ‘Daddy’ Plath is more personal as she addresses her own oppression against psychological and family issues whereas Achebe is trying to define his struggles in term of societal issues and expose the evil in society. Achebe uses unrelated ideas such as the ‘Commandant’ and the ‘Vultures’ and other forms of Nazi imagery to depict evil whilst Plath uses her own life and her own experiences to communicate her ideas. She uses Nazi imagery to describe the authority of her ‘German’ father.
Both poets attempt to communicate their struggles using different persons. Throughout her poem Plath frequently uses the pronoun ‘I’ as she tries to communicate her own thoughts and personal experiences, and such repetition enforces her desire to be listened to. On the other hand Achebe talks to the reader and society using examples that the world can relate to, such as World War 2, in an attempt to highlight the futility of war. He uses the third person, as the events he describes are more remote to him than Plath’s ordeal. He fears that evil will overcome love and society will not be able to prevent this. He wishes to show society the ‘tiny glow worm of tenderness’ that exists in every ‘ogre’.
The Juxtaposition of imagery in Plath’s ‘Daddy’ creates a stream of consciousness mirroring the confusion she felt since her fathers death- ‘A bag full of God’, ‘an engine, an engine’, ‘the snows of Tyrol’. On the other hand Achebe’s poem is more organised. He uses metaphorical language to describe evil by firstly describing it as a ‘Vulture’ and then secondly a ‘Commandant’. Any juxtaposition of imagery in the poem mirrors the relationship between love and evil and is intentional.
The conclusions of the poems are both different. In the end of ‘Vultures’, Achebe’ issues are resolved, as the reader remains haunted by the ‘perpetuity of evil’ as written on the final line of the poem. In contrast Plath announces to herself that she is ‘through’, meaning she has abandoned and moved on from the abusive portion of her life and is continuing to convince herself that her father and husband can no longer influence her.