Andrienne Rich. Diving into the Wreck and Living in Sin

Posted: November 27th, 2013


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Adrienne Rich: Diving into the Wreck and Living in Sin






Adrienne Rich: Diving into the Wreck and Living in Sin

Research Bundles

Poetry of Diving into the Wreck by Revathi Krishnaswarny and John Charles Hawley

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70                    SUMMARY: The poem is introduced with a supposition of existing wreckage. Its rationality is pre-offered as a priori despite the perceptual legitimacy of the wreck being validated as a posteriori through the act of diving and discovering. This means that without assuming the wreck, the diving act cannot be vindicated.

70                    QUOTE: “First having read the book of myths,/ and loaded the camera,/ and checked the edge of the knife blade,/ I put on,/ the body-armor of black rubber.”

70                    EXPLANATION: The poem shows the prioritizing existence of the word first and its connection to the myth book. In an untainted proper manner, the word first sets in action the outline of the arrival, rationality of continuous series and dissimilar repetition that is both similar and different. After the syntax of return is approved, the real measurement of any determinate return is resettled if return has a systematic impermanence. However, this disembowels its own conceptual specification in the particular topic of dive into the wreck. The word dive is an unprompted trick but a deliberate plan that recognizes the diverse procedures of preparation that brings about the diving moment.

Poetry of Diving into the Wreck by Mohit Kumar Ray and Rama Kundu

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38                    SUMMARY: The source discusses on how the poem diving into the Wreck has been used by Rich to symbolize her concerns in feminism. The author describes this poetry is concerned about issues that are faced by women which contribute in destroying their lives. Rich achieves this by symbolizing words such as wreck for the society and challenges that she seeks to destroy. These symbolic words have been used by Rich to aim at displaying patriarchy. The author adds that words such as knife, camera and knowledge have been used to describe how women prepare themselves to face these challenges.

39                    SUMMARY: The source also explains how the poem has been incorporated with Rich’s main body since it skillfully maneuvers the underlying fact to the feminist ends.

39                    QUOTE: “I came to explore the wreck”

39                    EXPLANATION: The quote is used to describe the main issues of Rich connecting to the overall state of humanity and women. The word wreck has been used as a metaphor to describe the society that consists of various types of discriminations and challenges. The author explains that Rich aims to bring these issues out, for not only people to witness, but also provide a solution.

39                    SUMMARY: The source describes Rich’s statement of how the vermeil has a drowned face with invisible eyes as Rich’s strategy to inform the audience of the unknown possibilities found among people that emphasize on their weaknesses.

39                    QUOTE:  “Diving into the Wreck”

40                    EXPLANATION: The above quote has also been used by the author to enable the audience examine the societal damages caused by patriarchy and direct their progressive actions in the right track. As Rich’s words are directly connected to sea-diving wreckage, in the adventure narrated, they aim at describing the probable resolutions towards the challenges experienced in feminism.

Poetry of Living in Sin by Allan Burns

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108                  EXPLANATION: The author of the poem displays the aspects of an unsatisfactory relationship from a feminist perspective. The subject of the poem has been used to explain the conservative idea that it is unacceptable for an unmarried pair to live under the same roof. Rich’s main concern is not to test shallow statements but to query on the ancient duties of gender responsibilities.

109                  SUMMARY: The poem differentiates on the concept of love with ordinary tasks of quotidian lifestyle. The author discusses how the feminist character has engaged in a relationship with a Bohemian artist. The character manages to keep his studio clean while he roams out to look for cigarettes after successfully and absurdly minimum instrumental practice. The studio is displayed in the poem in two separate views as a stylish apartment furnished with different instruments and a cat pet. The second view is a messy place with displaced food leftovers including cheese and empty bottles.

110                  EXPLANATION: The female character has developed a great interest in the apartment having a high fashion concept but her regular life entails facing filth in the untidy bed. The night period is linked with the concept of affection while day is related to duties and cabin agitation. These opposing situations aid in explaining the importance of the milkman. The milkman’s arrival in the poem represents the beginning and end of night and day.

Context essay: Diving into the Wreck

This poem is an excellent and emotional enactment in the association of the educational to the performance aspect in the revisionist contest of visualized female gender politics. The principles that compel the poem’s concept are rigid procedures that are committed to identifying the political aspect instead of prioritizing it. Consideration for these procedures is listed as a form of language (Radhakrishnan, 2008). In addition, the poem challenges to form the diplomatic aspect as an investigation procedure instead of a recovering it as a pre-given assurance.

In the same way, the poem expresses history as determined wreckage to the cooperation of a placed imagination that is only able to function as a perception and not a place for assured acquaintance. The poem gives opportunity within its revisionist principle for incidental practices of people’s bias that heads past the restricted diplomatic operations (Radhakrishnan, 2008). During the period in which the poem was being written, many historical incidents occurred in the United States (Radhakrishnan, 2008).

The main historical event was the Vietnam War, whereby feminists were fighting for feminine rights and the voices for the Municipal Rights group in the early sixties. Rich was a member of that environment because she became a diplomatic poet. She was disturbed about the current situation of the conflict in Vietnam and was known for having an influential feminist tone (Radhakrishnan, 2008). This is because she was not afraid of relating poetry work with her views on societal justice. During the event in that historical period of tension in Vietnam, she received an award for her poetry.

Adrienne Rich declined to obtain the award for herself and instead agreed to receive if only it represented names of all unrecognized female writers. This move was acknowledged as a huge civic gesture during a chaotic period. In the year 1966, Rich and her family went to stay in New York, where her husband got a job position at the City College. Both of them were heavily part of opposition operations that opposed the Vietnam War (Oakes, 2004). Rich was involved in teaching within the program known as Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK), that included the young disadvantaged population (Oakes, 2004).

As a result, she was able to change the perspective of her audience on the challenges that the country was facing. Rich’s brilliant diplomatic concerns became the focus for several famous poetry including The Leaflets and The Will to Change. In addition, her renovations in poetic techniques revealed the continuous progress in her political mind-set (Oakes, 2004). Rich adapted to the style of writing by means of a new importance through changing her stiff poetic verse approach that reflected on her early work to producing poetry that was featured by some sort of improvisational strength.

In the year 1970, Rich decided to leave her marriage in order to accomplish a common purpose based on her own manner. However, at a later period her husband decided to commit suicide. Rich’s poetry work including Diving into the Wreck illustrated the alteration in her strategy and structure plus her methodological progress and current discrete improvisation. This is where she begun expressing the practices and objectives of women from a solid feminist point of view (Oakes, 2004).

Adrienne Rich illustrated the changing power of the gay-feminist meeting point, which was positioned historically in the early seventies. However, her poetic approach that blended several textual principles including memoirs and autobiography, Rich took over the challenging responsibility of falsifying a spirit among female artists. She was involved in a critique of realization and myth, in which she analyzed women’s understanding based on feminism within the repressive patriarchy contexts.

Diving into the Wreck was considered as a poetry that provided feminist-centered and ideological views that connected to the revelation of sisterhood and the awareness of feminist concerns (Blary and Durand, 2001). Adrienne Rich wrote the poem to declare the several concerns that she had in common with other poets including the relationships between individuals and the society as a basic poetic circumstance. In addition, they discovered these relationships in different ways because they did not only address the civic concerns of the Vietnam War since they also focused on ratifying a self-awakening to the diplomatic and societal life. In addition, the poets addressed how they located their realization and its development at a particular historical instant (Blary and Durand, 2001).

Rich’s poem summed up the force of feminist groups, in which women were battling for their voice to be heard within the society. These feminists were not as recognized by the public as only little attention was paid to them. However, in the late sixties, this perception changed and taken seriously after American women took action and protested on their voice to be heard. The reigning household ideology in the early fifties not only instructed women that their responsibility was based on household and family caring, but also persuaded that unless they something was bothering them, they were supposed to feel contentment in that obligation.

Majority of the women viewed the standards set by the society as oppressive, and as time progressed, several feminist became overly aggravated by the standards that were inflicted upon them. In addition, they were frustrated with their helpless state in an environment where single and professional women were viewed as socially deviant. In addition, due to the advancement in the advertising business and the new entry of customer products, several households wanted both the husband and wife to find means in earning revenue. However, as women looked for opportunities, they realized that they had partial choices.

Annotation: Diving into the Wreck

Adrienne Rich has used a number of themes including the theme of Gender. Rich explains on how the female gender has lost direction by leaving their devices, record and areas to destroy. In addition, she advises women to take hold of the real visual of the camera, potential knife blade and have positive doubt in the quote that states, “Myths / in which / our names do not appear”( Snodgrass 2006)[1]. In addition, the author expresses her diplomatic view in immovable feminist conditions and explains reality based on a female aesthetic, whereby humanity is understood from a feminist point of view instead of a woman to be understood from a human perspective (Templeton 1994)[2].

The author has also made applied the style of symbolism in the poem. For example, Rich has made use of symbolic words including wreck to represent humanity and the challenges it is seeking to destroy. Symbolic words have been applied by Rich with the purpose of demonstrating patriarchy. Other symbolic words including knife, camera and knowledge have been applied to express how feminists train themselves to counter those challenges.

The author has also applied the use of imagery. For example, the imagery of the androgynous mermaid articulated in the poem is used by the author to describe the striking period in the climactic argument in which feminist seekers once maintained a particular course. Another example of imagery is in the words Compass and Log. These are a part of the ship, which were once constructive but have been made obsolete by disaster (Snodgrass 2006). They have been used to explain how human beings have no control of nature and hence trying to defeat it is pointless.



Emotional Response: Living in Sin

The poem acts as a reflection of what occurs in modern relationships in the aspect of ignoring the important values of marriage. Materialistic factors such as money, lust and prestige are prioritized in the place of true love. For example, the female character is shown as being disappointed after learning that marriage was more than her conception of living a materialistic life. This is when she perceived her marriage life being money-oriented, whereby she was going to live a luxurious life, in which everything was provided.

This situation is very unfortunate because marriage, which is a very significant chapter in uniting people, is being dishonored and taken for granted. The saddening fact is that as people continue to ignore the true meaning of marriage, they end up hurting themselves in the end. For example, the woman in the poem is shown to lack happiness in her life even after scoring for herself a husband. She is displayed regretting on her decision in being committed to a marital life that did not offer what she desired in terms of materialistic needs.

Therefore, before people get involved in a marriage commitment, they should take time to be more acquainted with its principles and values among other related information. It is important for individuals to understand more often than not the meaning and purpose of marriage before they commit because it will make them aware of the consequences involved and hence be certain on the decision to make based on marriage. For example, if the female decided to take a step back before making a rash decision on marrying the man by researching on the responsibilities and consequences involved, she would probably be in a better place of having no regrets.

The situation in which the female character was in shows that many couples in the modern era rash in committing to relationships in looking forward to their benefits. In addition, their interest in the relationship fades away as the obligations and consequences increase. If the married woman was given the life she desired, her attitude towards the marriage would change to being optimistic and therefore she would never leave the man. This is a negative and unrealistic outlook of relationships because we exist in a non-perfect world in which challenges occur to test peoples’ abilities to handle life.

Therefore, marital relationships would be valued more if people accepted the responsibilities involved as much as they agree with its advantages in order to build stronger unions in those commitments. The author’s use of religious phrases to condemn immoral practices in relationships can be viewed as necessary and judgmental at the same time. For example, the modern society is characterized by a high rate of immorality as compared to the past era.

Therefore, I feel it is important for the writer to have considered that her material would be of relevance to the modern era as well and try to use a language that does not appear judgmental to a society that fails to value morality. For example, phrases such as jeered by demons that represent a religious torment and perpetual punishment for immoral practices. As much as it shows that the author came from an upbringing that valued morals, she should have considered the type of audience that does not have strong moral beliefs.

Besides, the main purpose of writing the poem should involve reaching out to people instead of making them feel like they are being judged and isolated. On the other hand, it is necessary to use such phrases that help to deliver the message more effectively to the audience. For example, the message delivered might enable the audience to reconsider their actions, decisions and hence protect themselves from suffering unnecessary consequences that could have been otherwise prevented.

The poem also illustrates how women are misused within a relationship. The woman is in a relationship with an artist who makes her perform all the household chores for him as if she were his servant. The man is shown to leave his apartment for the woman to clean and tidy the place. This shows that the male individual also does not care about the relationship because of the way he mistreats her in a gruesome manner. He appears to have engaged in a relationship in order to have someone fulfill his needs without expecting anything in return.

This perspective of a relationship shows the aspect of selfishness because the man is only thinking about what he can get from the relationship instead of what he can offer in building a strong commitment with the woman. Despite the woman complaining about the relationship, it is normal to sympathize with her situation because I do not think anybody would want to enter in a relationship only to be treated as an irrelevant factor.

A relationship is built on a strong foundation only if both parties are willing to put effort in making it work. For example, if the man showed interest in helping his partner in some of the responsibilities including house chores, there would be a greater understanding between them and hence the commitment would be much more valued. Besides, both parties in a relationship deserve the same expected level of respect in order to value the commitment. The woman in the poem obviously started to lose interest because she felt as if she was not being valued as being relevant in the relationship.

The man in the poem is also shown leaving a mess of bottles and remains of food for the female character to clean. This illustration shows how inconsiderate the man is because he does not appear to care how the woman will feel when she finds a messy apartment. In addition, she probably felt worthless because instead of being treated as an important aspect in the man’s life, the male character makes her feel useless and unwanted in the relationship.

Annotation: Living in Sin

The poem has used several themes including romance whereby the author illustrates the infection of romance by shared filth. The author displays the experience of disappointment in women when they realize that they are living in wrongdoing (Ostriker 2001)[3]. The author is secretly being sarcastic and therefore isolating herself from the speaker by applying the above offensive Christian idioms. The author has also utilized phrases such as living in sin and jeered by demons resemble a Christian anguish and eternal punishment for sexual transgressions.

Rich was brought up to respect her virginity and avoid practices of sexual adulteration and hence the message in the poem calls upon the stagnant cultural dishonors against adultery practices. In addition, it also invokes its relationship with eternal punishment and probable death. The author has applied the use of imagery and vibrant communication to explain the unsatisfactory relationship that is witnessed all through the poem (Langford 2005)[4]. The poem displays a female’s life lacking a rhythmic flow in four significant illustrations.

In addition, as the tendency varies, the woman is able to understand the difference between how she perceived the relationship to be and the reality of how a relationship is. For example, the quote, “She had thought the studio would keep itself,” describe the first image to illustrate that the female character in the poem had visualized the relationship as a perfect fantasy wedding (Langford 2005)[5]. The past sense of think to thought describes how the woman was thinking of the impossibility in a relationship. The author makes the lines of the poem to be shorter and uneven in order to set a discouraging mood.

The theme of conflict is illustrated where the female in the poem became involved in a marriage with ideal expectations of a perfect love life but instead lives a reality of an affectionless marriage. In addition, she is unable to accomplish her self-actualization like in the case of her inactive spouse and ends up in a continuous trap of doing all the house chores as is expected of females in a society (Warren and Dickie 2000).

Biography: Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich is a known poet, essay writer and female activist in the United States (Yorke 1997). She was born in May 16, 1929 in Baltimore, which is located in Maryland. Rich has two elder sisters and her parents names are Helen Jones Rich and Arnold Rice Rich. Her father was a professor at John Hopkins Medical School while her mother was a pianist performer. Despite the father, Arnold Rich coming from a Jewish background, his children were brought up as Christians.

Adrienne Rich’s interest of poetry was influenced by her father’s encouragement of taking an interest in reading and writing poems. Rich’s curiosity and attachment to literature ignited during the time she spent at her father’s library when she studied different literary works of various authors including Matthew Arnold, William Blake, John Keats and Dante Gabriel Rossetti among other writers (Yorke 1997). Rich’s father became determined in encouraging her literature work and decided to form a phenomenon writer in her abilities.

Rich and her elder sister were schooled from home through their mother’s assistance until the fourth grade stage, where Rich started enrolling at a Public School. She wrote a poem known as Sources and After Dark to describe the relationship she had with her parents (Yorke 1997). In this poem, she expressed how she strived to achieve academically in order to accomplish her parents’ aspirations by heading to an atmosphere that required her to succeed.

However, after a few years, Rich attended School at Roland Park Country, which she defined it as an institution that gave the impression of positive influential feminists whereby the independent women in that area were academically fervent. After Rich completed her High School education, she attained a college education at Radcliffe College in Harvard, in which she got a diploma. She concentrated on studying the art of writing poems and other literal forms.

Argument about the Poem: Living in Sin

Most modern relationships are becoming unsuccessful because of the bias of money and prestige over the true purpose of love, which builds the union. Several couples tend to end their relationships due to small matters that should not define the commitment. For example, a wife may want to divorce the husband because of not being provided with sufficient materialistic needs that would help her achieve a certain status in the society. However, relationships should be given more credit by the persons involved in order for each of them to have the benefit of being in the commitment.

As Adrienne Rich was writing the poem, living in sin, she was trying to address the issues that occur in love relationships. Rich accomplishes this by articulating the story of a woman who gets involved in a relationship with the thought of having a perfect life in which the man would provide for him all the needs she desired including wealth (Parini, 2000). Unfortunately, she learns the hard way on the reality of relationships when her husband takes advantage of her by letting her do all the house chores and pick after his mess. However, I think this is a discouraging manner of understanding the relationship

The author illustrated the female character as having an unrealistic perception of the relationship. For example, the quote, “She had thought the studio would keep itself” describes how the woman in her first days of being in the relationship thought that she would never have any responsibilities including house chores to take care of (Parini, 2000). However, a relationship whereby an individual thinks about his or her expectations is rendered unsuccessful.  This is because the purpose of the relationship is based on the individual’s responsibility to think and act on what he or she can offer more than what each expects in order to build a stronger union.

Rich also illustrates the male in the woman’s life as selfish and uninterested. He is shown playing the instruments in a tuneless manner as he ignores the woman. In addition, he is displayed expressing dislike, as he looks himself in the mirror and goes to take his cigarette (Parini, 2000). This displays a relationship based on selfishness because the man does not appreciate the woman and her efforts to keep his apartment clean. Although the woman’s expectations do not define a true relationship, it is only normal to sympathize with her situation because the male character is also meant to show initiative in building a successful relationship.

The relationship as illustrated in the poem between the man and woman was not built on the necessary principles that build a strong foundation of a union. The woman is displayed as being in a relationship based on her materialistic expectations to be fulfilled while the man committed in order to unload the burden of household responsibilities to the involved partner. However, at the end, no one seems to be satisfied or happy and therefore people deciding to enter a relationship should honor its true values in order to live a contented blissful life.

Argument about the poem: Diving into the Wreck

Feminism involves an association of pressure groups that exist in order to identify, defend and build a strong foundation of women being able to access equivalent opportunities in the political, societal and economic aspects (Langford, 2005). The main purpose of feminism is for women to seek gender equivalence in a society that is influenced by male dominance. Feminist movements therefore serve an important purpose because it ensures that women realize the value of their gender responsibilities to the society.

In the poem, Diving into the Wreck, the author seems to address issues concerning the importance of the society acknowledging and appreciating the existence of women. However, the as much as the author advocates for feminist justice, she seems doubtful on the women standing a chance to be viewed as important as the men are perceived in the society. For example, in the poem where she quotes, “Myths / in which / our names do not appear”, she reflects on how women have misplace their positioning in the society to the extent of loosing hope in acknowledging their importance in the society (Langford, 2005).

However, as much as this quote sets a hopeless mood, I think there is hope for women in learning from their mistakes and getting back on their feet to fight for their suitable position in the society. Adrienne Rich is also believed to have a strong belief in witchcraft and attributed it for the misfortune faced by women (Langford, 2005). The author displays weakness because instead of focusing on how to solve the feminist issues, she blames the problem on a certain cause.

The author of the poem appears to be concerned with the challenges facing women and their vulnerability towards those issues. For example, Rich uses the poem to express how women during the period she wrote the epic were oppressed by the society over male dominance. She illustrates how this issue went to the extent of women failing and loosing hope in acknowledging and fighting for their identity in the society. The author appears to be concerned to the extent of fearing that the feminist might fail in their mission. However, I think that as the feminist challenges become more intense, the women should be empowered in strengthening their will to fight for their position in the society.


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de Recherches Nord-Américaines et Canadiennes, Université de Lille.

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[1] Snodgrass, M. E. (2006). Encyclopedia of feminist literature. New York: Facts on File.


[2] Templeton, A. (1994). The dream and the dialogue: Adrienne Rich’s feminist poetics. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.


[3] Ostriker, A. (2001). Writing like a woman. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.


[4] Langford, R. (2005). Depicting desire: Gender, sexuality, and the family in nineteenth century Europe: Literary and artistic perspectives. Oxford: Peter Lang.


[5] Langford, R. (2005). Depicting desire: Gender, sexuality, and the family in nineteenth century Europe: Literary and artistic perspectives. Oxford: Peter Lang.


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