In 1971 Rich wrote “When We Dead Awaken” exploring the idea that literature is as constrained for females as every other facet of life. Rich analyzes past literary works and identifies that there is a constant among female writes. When analyzing the works of Sylvia Plath and Diane Wakoski she writes, “It strikes me that in the work of both Man appears as, if not a dream, a fascination and a terror; and that the source of the fascination and the terror is, simply, Man’s power-to dominate, tyrannize, choose, or reject the woman” (348). This power of man over woman is something that Rich finds in some of her earlier work as well. Rich states that she was taught to write poetry so it pertained to everyone, which meant not to women (351). Rich writes, “I hadn't found the courage yet to do without authorities, or even to use the pronoun “I” – woman in the poem is always “she” (357). While using the pronoun “she” Rich was trying her best to set a distance between herself and the subject of her poems to ensure that her work could pertain to many. She attributes the liberation of women in the arts to the second wave of feminists.
Adrienne, Rich Cecile. “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-vision.” Claims for Poetry. Ed Donald Hall. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1982.