Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Expected Life

Despite Rich’s view of marriage as a constraint, she married a Harvard professor of economics, Alfred Conrad, in 1953.  Starting when Rich was 24 years old the couple had three boys together all within the span of four years.  Rich was living the expected life a housewife and mother. 

In 1963 Rich published the book Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law: Poems 1954-1962, published ten years after her marriage.  Rich presents ideas of the power awakening through her own sexuality and the constraints imposed by society holding back this sexuality of females.  One example is of the poem “Snapshots.”  Rich creeps out of the cave of ignorance to find courage in her female form by writing, “. . . a woman, partly brave and partly good. . .” (73).  Rich is finding that her feminine strength does not quite fit into the constructed role assigned for women.  Secondly, Rich addresses her distaste for the labels that women are given if they astray from the expectations of society.  She writes, “. . . hence she was labeled harpy, shrew and whore” (76).  Due to the speaker's inability to squeeze into designated roles she is given negatively charged labels. Through Rich’s poems, spanning over the 10 years of her marriage, she starts to feel uncomfortable in her role as the typical woman.

Adrienne, Rich Cecile. "Snapshots." Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law: Poems 1954-1962, Norton & Company Inc. 1963.  

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