Feminism Through Adrienne Rich

Essay by nchantn78College, Undergraduate August 2004

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Feminism Through Adrienne Rich

In a time when women were to be seen and not heard, Adrienne Rich wrote about feminism and female strength. She was married and a closet lesbian but found courage in her poetry. "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers" and "Diving into the Wreck" both talk about feminism and the struggle of everyday life for women. In her earlier poems she disguises her views of feminism by talking about things that have nothing to do with it. She was married when she wrote her first "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers" and used Aunt Jennifer in the third person as her oppressed woman. In "Diving into the Wreck," however, she is not married and is no longer hiding her homosexuality. She talks as though she is the one going to the wreck finding the truth for herself and encouraging others to do the same for themselves.

"Aunt Jennifer's Tigers" is a poem about a woman knitting a quilt or some type of blanket.

On the blanket, the tigers that she is creating represent women in society who are not afraid of men and who are breaking out of the roles that men have placed upon them. She says that the tigers "pace in sleek chivalric certainty" (ln. 4). She views these women as sort of saviors for the women who are afraid or don't have the strength to leave the roles placed before them. In the second stanza, Rich says that "even the ivory needle is hard to pull" (ln.6). The ivory needle represents the everyday chores that define the female role being tedious and tiresome. "The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band" sitting upon her hand shows the oppressiveness of marriages (ln.7-8). Women are supposed to get married and conform to the roles and expectations that their own husbands...