Adrienne RichPoetry

Representation of Power in “I Dream I’m the Death of Orpheus” and “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers”

5 Mins read

Many of Adrienne Rich’s poems, especially “I Dream I’m the Death of Orpheus” and “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” cope with unequal power relations in society, trying on the marginalization of varied groups, which Rich herself, can determine with. “I Dream I’m the Death of Orpheus”, from Rich’s anthology The Will to Change, was written at a time when Rich started writing being like a feminist, relatively than a normal humanist. She started writing with a way of ritual and ceased to keep away from woman’s political points. “I Dream I’m the Death of Orpheus” presents a robust persona with a capable thoughts, however who remains to be restricted by society’s conventional stereotypes for women. Similarly, the subject of one other of Rich’s poems, “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers”, from Rich’s anthology, can be proven as a restricted, confined woman in such a society, though, in distinction, the subject doesn’t appear to have the identical confidence. The subject, Aunt Jennifer, succumbs to society and the stereotypes it controls, by permitting herself to be powered and settle for her function inside her atmosphere. “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” was written a lot earlier than “I Dream I’m the Death of Orpheus” and holds more universal meaning than the feminist outlook that’s in her later works. Rich’s earlier poems had been very conventional, lyrical poems that did keep away from woman’s points, and a big growth might be seen in evaluating these classical poems to her more truthful and generally confrontational works. Rich examines unequal power relations, by means of these two poems, first from a common, humanist way, accepting that woman are anticipated to behave in line with certain stereotypes, after which secondly from a robust feminist way, with an analogous subject, however a unique sentiment.

Read About: Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers and Adrienne Rich’s Feminism

“I Dream I’m the Death of Orpheus” refers to a historical Greek myth involving the son of the god Apollo and muse Calliope, Orpheus. Orpheus was killed by the followers of Dionysus after they found him mourning his wife’s demise. The followers turned indignant at his refusal to join in with their excessive spirits and they also threw stones at him. Orpheus charmed the stones along with his music so they might not harm him and when the followers of Dionysus noticed this, they slew him and threw him into the stream. The “Death of Orpheus” that Rich is referring to is Orpheus’ nymph wife, Eurydice, because the followers of Dionysus solely slew Orpheus as he was so mournful of his spouse’s loss of life. The disappointment and loneliness killed him as a result of no one might settle for his pain. The persona of the poem continually speaks of being free, sturdy and proud. “I am a woman in the prime of life” is repeated within the poem and means that the persona may be very happy together with her place in herself, and whereas she recognizes that she does have strength and energy, she realizes that her “powers severely limited by authorities” inside her society. She enhances the picture of being a robust woman by describing herself as “a woman with a certain mission” and “a woman with the nerves of a panther”. Anyone with a mission sounds vital and she goes on to say that she is going to acquire energy if she is “obeyed”, and using such a wild and noble creature, such because the tiger, enhances the picture of power being displayed. The persona realizes that no matter power she possesses is ineffective within the society that she belongs to, as all women are “sworn to lucidity”. The persona frequently aims of holding power in society where it’s brazenly recognized, however is aware of she isn’t free to. This links to the title and myth behind the poem, because the persona could want to be as free as a nymph. The word to deal with within the title is “Dream”, because the persona, who all through, is represented as being strong minded and happy with herself and her powers, remains to be left to dream about her freedom, relatively than live it. She is conscious that society’s traditions and stereotypes don’t enable her the liberty she needs and dreams of getting it, as Greek nymphs had. Rich examines the unequal power relations from the angle of a woman who longs for freedom from the constraints of society, voicing what many women had been dreaming.

Rich’s another poem “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” was written roughly twenty years earlier than “I Dream I’m the Death of Orpheus”, however offers carefully with the identical problems with the marginalization of women. The subject is enhanced in significance, nonetheless, because the issue is noticed from an onlooker who performs the function of persona on this poem, subsequently suggesting that the problem is an apparent one in society that’s prevented. The persona watches the subject of the poem, Aunt Jennifer, discussing the restrictions that Aunt Jennifer faces in society, and the affect conventional marriage has had on their Aunt. The poem begins with Aunt Jennifer creating a decorative display, lined in wild, fearless tigers, prancing by means of the trees, above males. This picture, alone, expresses Aunt Jennifer’s need for escape and freedom, as she reveals these needs by means of her art, with the tigers as a illustration of herself, with the ability to be above males in society. The poem then turns to the burden that marriage is to her, with the persona describing the obligation as:

Read About: Discuss Adrienne Rich as a Poetess

“The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand”

Working with the rhyming couplets, the usage of “band” and “hand” provides a harsh and abrupt feeling to the sentence, intensifying the picture of the marriage band and it’s restrictions. The final stanza of “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” speaks of when Aunt Jennifer is dead, suggesting that the pressures and constraints of society will keep together with her within the after-life. The persona presumes that:

“When Aunt Jennifer is dead, her terrified hands will lie
Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.”

This means that Aunt Jennifer was very a lot controlled by her husband and was terrified so tremendously that an onlooker was in a position to discover her worry. The persona nonetheless, while realizing that the subject was riddled by ordeals, brings the main focus of the poem again to the display created by Aunt Jennifer, as the wild tigers that Aunt Jennifer needs to be like, “Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.” This suggestion of Rich’s acknowledges that there’s particular inequality within the power relations inside the society, however women deeply need their freedom and specify it by means of different means, in order to not be criticized by the dominant aspect in society.

Though written at utterly totally different levels of Adrienne Rich’s writing development, each “I Dream I’m the Death of Orpheus” and “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” deal with the marginalization of women in society and the best way wherein they’re pressured to obey and never dispute their place. The poems accent the ability and freedom of the feminine thoughts, whereas additionally emphasize the shortage of potential or more carefully, permission to voice their opinions or do something about it. Rich examines the dominant function that males have in society and the methods wherein they oppress women into pondering that they’re lesser-humans and insignificant. Though wanting on the slight change in course between the 2 poems, it’s apparent that Rich was creating a voice and inspiring different women too as effectively. Rich can determine to the marginalization of woman and makes it evident that many women longed for freedom.

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