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Rich vs. The Classic 50s Wife Essay

“But to be a female human being trying to fulfill traditional female functions in a traditional way is in direct conflict with the subversive function of the imagination. The word traditional is important here. There must be ways, and we will be finding out more and more about them, in which the energy of creation and the energy of relation can be united” (Rich 350). Adrienne Rich, a writer from the 20th century, compares and contrasts the ability to become a woman writer as well as being the cliché 1950s housewife in her essay “When We Dead Awaken: Writing As Re-Vision” . Even though Rich experiences what many women did not she organizes her essay as though they could follow her footsteps. Using many authors such as Henry James, and even herself, she helps collaborate an organize and essay in a way that makes it incredible easier for the reader to understand and follow.

When writing an essay, one of the most important aspects to remember is the organization of your essay. If you do not brainstorm and plan your essay, your reader could rotationally be lost, or even confused on what your paper or essay is about. For example in Rich’s essay, she organizes her essay according to her lifetime. In the beginning she tries to explain, in a way, a sense of “re-visioning”; the act of modifying or even changing an idea. The ability for a woman to be both a writer, and a 50s housewife was nearly impossible back in the day. However Rich believes that it can be done, and that is what this re-visioning plan is all about. She uses many other authors in supporting her argument, and her initial plan to bring about women writers. She then finishes her essay with her own personal experiences in coming about as a woman writer.

This way of organizing is very efficient, and helpful especially to the reader. Not only does is give the reader an example of how it is to be done, but it shows them that what was thought of the impossible, was in fact possible. It also shows the woman of that time that it was okay to be both a housewife and a writer; or just a writer like Rich. This is also a life lesson for the public. We are changing everyday. Throughout the entire world rules are changing, people are changing, and society is changing as a whole. No matter how hard something is, nothing is impossible. Rich succeeded in her dream in becoming a writer, so you should strive into becoming what you want to be. Rich used other readers into helping her throughout this essay and I feel it was very efficient for her to do so.

“He once opened his eyes, in the raw winter dawn, to see his companion, in a dressing-gown, on her knees before the domestic hearth, a candle-stick beside her and a red madras round her head, making a bravery with her own hands the fire that was to enable her to sit down betimes to urgent pen and paper. The story represents him as having felt that the spectacle chilled his ardor and tried his taste; her appearance was unfortunate, her occupation as inconsequence, and her industry a reproof – the result of all which was a lively irritation and an early rupture” (Rich 345). In this quote the husband is almost disgusted with how his wife looks, and what she is doing.

Instead of preparing him dinner or cleaning the house, she is about to light the fire and write. This type of judgment towards woman that write caused a problem with those who were wanting to become a writer. I believe the reason Rich included this in her piece is because it shows what women went through in the process of becoming a writer. It connects with her, especially, because she went through these exact phases. However, like I said in the previous paragraph, Rich proves that nothing is impossible. She made herself heard and if you wanted to become a female writer, than you could. Not only did Rich use other authors, but she used some of her other poems and writings as well.

Rich wrote on a notebook during her tough times, “Paralyzed by the sense that there exists a mesh of relationships – e.g., between my anger at the children, my sensual life, pacifism, sex ( I mean sex in its broadest significance, not merely sexual desire)- an interconnectedness which, if I could see it, make it valid, would five me back myself, make it possible to function lucidly and passionately. Yet I grope in and out among these dark webs” (Rich 350). Here, Rich is trying to explain, in her own words, the frustration she encountered on her journey into finding herself. She is trying to find a middle point in between being a housewife, a mother, and a writer. She uses this passage to prove once more how hard it really was to accomplish your dream in life, especially hers. Nothing comes to you on a “silver platter”, and there will be sacrifices that you will have to make. It shows the reader how it affected her as a woman, and how she personally felt. This helps the reader feel her emotions, and really see the hard times.

Throughout this entire piece I found myself in Rich’s footsteps. Throughout my entire life there has been bumps in the road, and hard times that I had to overcome. Just like her, I made it through them and carried on, which I believe is what she did to become a writer. Organizing her piece the way she did, and structuring it the way she did, helped me, the reader, really understand her point of view, as well as some of the other authors.

Works Cited
Rich, Adrienne. “When We Dead Awaken: Writing As Re-Vision.” From Inquiry to Academic Writing, Boston: Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2008. 342-355. Print.


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