The theme that interested me most in the poems by Adrienne Rich was the inadequacy of language as a means of communication. Rich shows that the reason for this lies in the way language expresses power relationships in society. Often this means the unequal relationship between women and men, but also between the powerful and the powerless. This theme is touched upon in almost every poem we studied, from Rich’s early poems to those written later. To illustrate how Rich explores this theme I will look in detail at “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers”, “The Uncle Speaks in the Drawing Room”, “Our Whole Life”.
In “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers”, Rich creates a fantastic image of the aunt’s nonverbal communication through her tapestry. The poem opens with a vivid picture of the colourful, energetic alive world depicted on the tapestry. The aunt infuses the world of the tigers with many of the attributes she misses in her own life: a sense of being truly alive and in tune with the environment, and a state of fearlessness: “They do not fear the men beneath the tree/ They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.” The ee- sound in these lines introduces a note of terror that heralds what is to come. Indeed the phrasing suggests a reason for fear from men. The feelings that the aunt is projecting into her artwork, her own fears and desires are developed in the middle stanza. Her shaking, fearful hands “fingers fluttering” are very vivid and the fact that they find the “needle hard to pull” suggests physical weakness and contrasts very much with the tigers.
The reason for this weakness is “Uncle’s wedding band/ Sits heavily” on her “hand”. The possessive “Uncle’s” suggests that this is a one-way marriage that drains all life out of the aunt. Her hands come to represent her person in this poem and it is the hands that do the ‘talking’. The Uncle’s power over her seems to continue in death “When Aunt is dead, her...
...The Poetry of AdrienneRichAdrienneRich was born in Baltimore, Maryland in the year of 1929. Rich grew up in a household as she describes it as " white, middle-class, full of books, and with a father who encouraged her to write" (Daniel). Her father Arnold Rich was a doctor and a pathology professor and her mother, Helen Jones Rich, was a pianist and a composer. "AdrienneRich recalls her growing-up years clearly dominated by the intellectual presence and demands of the male in the family, her father, while correctly marked by the submerged tensions arising from the conflicts between the religious and cultural heritage of the father's Jewish background and her mother's Southern Protestantism" (Pope). In the year of 1951, Rich graduated from Radcliffe University. During this year, AdrienneRich also won the Yale Younger Poets Prize for her first book, A Change of World. In 1953, AdrienneRich married Alfred Conrad who was a Harvard economist; during the next five years Rich had three sons. Deborah Pope says that Rich's journal entries, from these years, state that this was an "emotionally and artistically difficult period" (Pope). Rich's poems were mainly influenced by Robert Frost, Yeates, Stevens, and Auden. She became a major influence, through her...
...The Appeal Of Adrienne Rich’s Poetry
The poems of AdrienneRich spoke to me in a powerful way. She was definitely one of the most original and thought provoking poets on my course. The poems that I have studied represent many of the new ideas that emerged during her life. Not only do I find these ideas interesting, but I believe that I have benefited directly from them. Her feminist outlook on life is evident in every one of her poems. The poems i have studied include; Living in Sin, Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers, Power and The Roofwalker
In Living in Sin Rich shows how relationships are approached and experienced differently by women and men. She focuses on a relationship where the woman and her husband are not equal; in the poem images are used to show what each member of the relationship faces. While these images are mundane and appear unimportant at first glance, they effectively show the female in an inferior position. The woman is confronted with stressful duties, seen with the images of ‘the sheets’ which need to be pulled back and to ‘let the coffee-pot boil over the stove’. The man is confronted with much less challenging and trivial duties; this is shown with the ‘dozen notes upon the keyboard’ and the relatively unimportant task of rubbing at ‘his beard’. In contrasting what the man and woman face in their relationships through such images, Rich shows the need for equality and thus...
...these poems were written by AdrienneRich. Rich was an American poet and she was also a feminist. She wrote “Diving into the Wreck” during time period where women were still viewed as house wives. Even though some women had jobs, they were not giving the same benefits as male coworkers. The external conflict is between the women and the male-dominated business world. The internal conflict is between the women and their selves. First they have to decide if they want to go against the male-dominated business world. Then the external conflict would be them going after the male-dominated business world. Rich’s “Storm Warnings” is more about the internal conflict. The speaker throughout the poem talks about a storm, but the speaker is really talking about the emotional and internal conflict with itself. Like the weather, pain and sadness you feel inside can be unpredictable. Rich develops the theme of conflict in these two poems, through the use of sensory detail, symbolism, and figurative language.
To being with, symbolism is used to represent things with symbols. Rich uses these symbols during the conflict. In the poem “Diving into the Wreck”, a book of myths is mention in the first line “First having read the book of myths,” (Rich 1). This talks about the traditional values that men should be in the professional world and women should be house wives. The speaker disagrees with this. Then...
...of poems, is typical of her early work, illustrating the modest poetic ambitions for which she was praised by Auden. Technically, the work displays flawless craftsmanship, with a carefully regulated meter and rhyming couplets. Only later did Rich recognize how formalism functioned as she writes, "asbestos gloves," enabling her to grasp potentially dangerous materials without putting herself at risk, as in this poem.
The formalism of "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers" hides the more disturbing aspects of the poem and subordinates the theme of Aunt Jennifer's "ordeals" in marriage to the more "poetic" theme of the transcendence of art. The first verse of the poem describes the fearless tigers Aunt Jennifer creates in needlepoint. Their freedom and dignity is contrasted in the second verse to the restrictions of marriage, symbolized by the wedding band that weighs down Aunt Jennifer's fingers as she sews. The themes are resolved in the final, third, verse: Even death will not free Aunt Jennifer from her "ordeals," but the tigers she has created will continue to appear "proud and unafraid."
While the poem is technically brilliant, the themes that art endures beyond human life and that suffering may be redeemed through art are hardly original. Rich, however, uses an inventive image to recast these conventional themes in a new way and even hints, in the image of Aunt Jennifer weighed down by an oppressive marriage, at the feminism that would permeate her...
...Mills, Schudson, and Gitlin show different approaches to society and the role of mass media. Each approach helps illustrate a different focus on society. They each hold special relevance in a discussion of the history of societal beliefs.
The Mass Society refers to the overall belief C. Wright Mills held in relation to the type of society he believed we live in. Mills began The Power Elite with a bold statement saying, "The powers of ordinary men are circumscribed by the everyday words in which they live, yet even in these rounds of job, family, and neighborhood they often seem driven by forces they can neither understand nor govern" (Mills, 1956, p.3). This opening sentence helps describe the attitude and beliefs of the entire book. A "power elite" exists in a society that is made up of three spheres. They are divided into economy, political, and military, with the same group of people interchanging between the three. This large group of elite is at the top making all the decisions, while the masses are at the bottom, unaware of the process that molds public opinion. Masses within this view of society are irrelevant and do not have any type of influence.
The media functions as an entertainment source, keeping the masses entertained while the elite is taking care of all the important matters. It helps keep the reality and truth of...
...Pieces of AdrienneRich: She lived throughout her poems and changed her writing to express herself.
AdrienneRich is a writer that decides that she doesn't want to be another victim of the stereotype that is put on women (of her time.) In her writing days, the only method used to write was the "man's" method. Though in the beginning of her career she wrote in that style, she changed her method of writing to feminism for her third book. She took an opposite direction to the writing style, and did not do what everyone else did when it comes to writing. Rich was a passionate poem writer. Why? Rich she lived through her poems. Those poems were pieces of AdrienneRich. She lived throughout her poems and changed her writing to express herself.
"Dividing into the wreck" was her most famous poem. This was more about her life. Those were the days when she tried to live an acceptable life, though she had left her husband. The central idea of this essay is that women shouldn't be afraid to express themselves; that is what she eventually does with her life. She eventually got over her fear, and expressed herself the way that she wanted to.
In "Aunt Jen's Tiger," AdrienneRich weaves a tapestry and expresses an aggressive woman through the tiger; yet it shows how free she is. In the story, the wedding ring is described as a token of...
...Press in Pittsburgh, 1977; in Heresies: A Feminist Magazine of Art and
Politics, vol. 1, no. 1; and in a French translation by the Québecois feminist press, Les Editions du
It is clear that among women we need a new ethics; as women, a new morality. The problem of
speech, of language, continues to be primary. For if in our speaking we are breaking silences long
established, "liberating ourselves from our secrets" in the words of Beverly Tanenhaus, this is in
itself a first kind of action. I wrote Women and Honor in an effort to make myself more honest, and
to understand the terrible negative power of the lie in relationships between women. Since it was
published, other women have spoken and written of things I did not include: Michelle Cliff's "Notes
on Speechlessness" in Sinister Wisdom no. 5 led Catherine Nicolson (in the same issue) to write of
the power of "deafness", the frustration of our speech by those who do not want to hear what we
have to say. Nelle Morton has written of the act of "hearing each other into speech" [Nelle Morton,
"Beloved Image!", paper delivered at the National Conference of the American Academy of Religion,
San Francisco, California, December 28, 1977]. How do we listen? How do we make it possible for
another to break her silence? These are some of the questions which follow on the ones I've raised
(These notes are concerned with relationships between and among women. When "personal...
...The poetry of AdrienneRich documents the struggles and difficulties that women endure in the modern world. Many of these difficulties are the result of the nature of the society in which we live. Rich suggests that this society of ours is inherently biased towards the male. The consequence of this for women is that they are never given the opportunities to actualise their potential or even communicate their true feelings and desires. One of the fundamental problems as Rich perceives is the very language that we use. It is designed to promote the male and his values and needs, often at the expense of the female. In the poem ‘Our Whole Life’ the speaker states that ‘Our whole life’ is a ‘translation’. Women, it seems, are obliged to speak a language that does little more than provide support for a system that is inherently opposed to their empowerment. Whenever they seek to communicate their messages are ‘rendered into the oppressor’s language’ – i.e. that of the male.
It is not, however, the case that Rich is suggesting that men are consciously dominating women through the language that they use. The problem is really a lot more insidious and complicated than that. Rich is conscious of the fact that the words and phrases we use in everyday speech have a history, their meanings were established long before we came to speak them. And it is Rich’s belief that at...