Adrienne Rich, Feminism Gender

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Reading Adrienne Rich’s poetry: Questions of Feminism and Gender 4

Reading Adrienne Rich’s poetry: Questions of Feminism and Gender

The poems of Adrienne Rich spoke to me in a powerful way. She is one of the most original and thought-provoking poets on my course, and she speaks both for herself and for a generation in the throes of great change. The Rich poems I have studied represent many of the ideas that emerged during her life. Not only do I find these ideas interesting, I believe I have benefited directly from them.

‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’ speaks to me on many levels. It is an overtly feminist poem exploring the position of married women in society. However, it is also a great piece of writing. In the poem, Rich creates contrast for maximum effect; the tigers are “proud and unafraid” unlike Aunt Jennifer who is “terrified”. The aunt’s angst and nervousness is perfectly conveyed through sound and movement; her “fingers” are “fluttering through her wool”. Her creativity and personality is being suppressed by the marriage she is in:

The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band

Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.

Throughout the poem, there is a sense that Aunt Jennifer’s marriage is ‘weighing’ her down, and her husband’s dominance is suggested through Rich’s capitalisation of “Uncle”. It is clear this marriage is an unhappy one; even when her aunt is dead, Rich imagines, she will “still [be] ringed with ordeals she was mastered by”. And, unfortunately,...

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