Feminism in Adrienne Rich's Poetry Essay

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Adrienne Rich's poetry serves a prophetic function by articulating the history and ideals of the feminist struggle. By recalling the ancient chthonic mysteries of blood and birth, by reconnecting daughters with their mothers, by drawing parallels between women today and their historical counterparts, and by envisioning the women of the future who will emerge from the feminist struggle, her poetry celebrates women's strength and possibilities. Elaborating her vision, Rich brings a nurturing ethos to her analysis of social priorities:

I simply believe that human society is capable of meeting the fundamental needs of all human beings: we can give them a minimum standard of living, we can give them an education, we can create an
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( LSS, 213)

This emphasis on making women's reality and values "visible" echoes the Puritan injunction to externalize faith. Like the Puritans who became "visible saints" through spiritual preparation for the day God called them, women "name" themselves by analyzing their experience and understanding the meaning of their lives:

And it means the most difficult thing of all: listening and watching in art and literature, in the social sciences, in all the descriptions we are given of the world, for the silences, the absences, the nameless, the unspoken, the encoded--for there we will find the true knowledge of women. And in breaking those silences, naming our selves, uncovering the hidden, making ourselves present, we begin to define a reality which resonates to us, which affirms our being . . . to take ourselves, and each other, seriously: meaning, to begin to take charge of our lives. ( LSS, 145)

In addition to shared rhetorical patterns, there are structural parallels in Puritan reformation and feminist transformation: both envision the creation of a new world and both are threatened by external forces--Puritanism
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