Adrienne Rich - Diving into the Wreckage

The Diving into the Wreckage by Adrienne Rich

The Diving into the Wreckage was written by Adrienne Rich, a poet who was hailed as standing head and shoulders above her peers and the most revered of the time, and was first published in 1973. The poetry takes a unique turn in American history that was exemplified by the incredible women's movement in the early 1970s. (Rich 3).

Symbolism of the Wrecked Ship

As Rich introduces a heroic speaker on the subject of feminism, the women's movement had a significant impact on American politics and society. In a critical sense, the ship that Rich investigates is a symbol of the unrealized inner lives of the female gender, the neglected and destroyed societal values as a result of gender-based falsehood, the failed objectives and the irony in civilization, as well as the stereotypes erroneously held as true concerning gender roles. (Rich 1).

Rich's Exploration of Female Realities

Right from the onset of the text when Rich wears the appropriate gear and engages in her diving trajectory, the hopes linker broadly on how she is determined to demystify the hidden realities under the deep sea. Indeed, it would be notable when she brings to an end the falsehood superimposed on the mythical perceptions. She prepares adequately by, "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 the absurd flippers the grave and awkward mask" (Rich 1). Indeed, Rich brings out the truth through her maiden journey about the lives of women, and she serves as a critical and iconic representative of the second wave of American feminism, which is a crucial landmark in the discipline of literature. Undeniably, while analyzing the Diving into the Wreckage, on the one hand, it is vital to highlight the theme of towering patriarchal culture as is channeled through the literary mode of metaphor and free verse. On the other side, it is also imperative to outline how the text relates to and hitherto remains relevant to the twenty-first century American society on the very subject.

Literary Mode and Metaphor

The literary mode Rich uses in her work is a combination of free verse and metaphor. By utilizing free verse, the author does not take into consideration the traditional patterns of poetry, which include elements of rhyme scheme and typical patterns of the meter. Free verse is a phenomenon in the poem that characterizes the true experience in social and political settings of the 1960s in the US (Rich 2). The approach was a direct expulsion against the social upheavals witnessed in the society, and the paralleled spirit of American politics then. Following its independent rhyme scheme, the poem is a vivid show of repulsion against the beliefs of the time, and hence the feminist inclination of the author. By avoiding the traditional format in entirety, Rich is a manifestation of a realist and critique of the time, who seeks to unveil the truth beyond contemporary myths and social falsehoods about gender. Composed of seven to ten lines with deliberate differences in length, the poem has ten stanzas in the arrangement. Some lines have twelve syllables whereas others have two. Indeed, just like the poem breaks the traditional pattern in form, so does the author, Rich, calls upon the need to change the despised role of women in the society and appreciate a new, noble significance of the female gender in the apparent politics. The speaker in the poem is represented by the metaphor of the diver, who is indeed a representation of the female gender, the women who have been compromised to suppress their ambitions, longings, desires, and aspirations. It is the disguised patriarchal society that inclined more on the benefits and suitability of the male gender in the society as opposed to their female counterparts that perpetuate the gender-based discriminations. The second metaphor is the wrecked ship, which represents all that, has been devalued, forgotten, and suppressed; which could have been highly instrumental and of critical importance to the individual had it been recognized and put to its rightful use in the society. Nevertheless, what is an indispensable instrument has been left to rot beneath the sea, notwithstanding its treasure that is being preserved in value to the time the diver arrives in the wreckage to revive its social merit.

Themes of Truth and Gender Roles

The search for truth in the society and the respective roles of the male and female gender are core themes that shape the poem, and together they bring meaning to the aspect of the patriarchal culture of both the twentieth and the twenty-first century American societies (Schwartz 588). Beyond the literal spectrum, the poem is a reflection of the heart, the mind, and the experience of the author that was not exploited for a length of time. Existing in the light of daily life, the schooner is a metaphor representing the everyday world, while the deep oceans refer to the broader segments of the mind, wherein lies the unexploited psyche, as it represented by the wrecked ship. Taking the knife, the speaker can dissect and reveal the truth that has not been said over time. The camera will never compromise the truth, as with it, reality comes to light, though hidden under the sea. The author wears special gear to be an aide that enables her to exploit the hidden, a revelation that one needs new skills, adept prowess, and critical insight to demystify the truth behind the norms of culture, "the sea is not a question of power I have to learn alone to turn my body without force in the deep element" (Rich 4). Though recognized as true, subjecting traditional beliefs to the scrutiny of the reason is essential. Though wrecked under the sea, the ship has a treasure, which once facilitated the ship to be on course. Meaning, the unexploited psyche of the human mind should be reviewed by a new, to realize the hidden perceptions that bring truth to light and rebuke social and political injustices against the female gender based on male dominance. Furthermore, the poet writes when the American society is highly patriarchal, and Rich advocates for the space of women in the community so that they can do what their abilities are capable of delivering rather than being discriminated against by men. Rich argues that it is in the best interest of not only women but also men to realize the real significance of gender roles as opposed to patriarchal inclinations.

Patriarchal Culture in the Twenty-First Century

The poem is indeed a true reflection of the twenty-first century American society regarding patriarchal culture. Research shows that presently, female workers in the US full-time workforce earn 77 percent of what male employees earn (Schwartz 591). Despite the entry of women into lucrative fields like medicine, law, and engineering apparently unlike when it was in the 1970s, women are still limited in many ways. For instance, they cannot be leaders in the disciplines due to certain technical factors inclined on gender, hence making patriarchal culture a typical phenomenon in the American society. Nevertheless, following the advocacy of feminist authors in the mid-twentieth century like Rich, the American Society realized the authenticity between the roles of women and men in the American culture (Rich 1). For instance, the similar roles for both genders ensure that employment opportunities, child care, paid maternity leave, legal rights to abortion, and equality in education are constitutional privileges for women in the twenty-first century. Indeed, Rich brings on board two essential arguments in the twentieth century that are the true reflection of what remains to be relevant apparently. One is that she wrote her poem to counter the belief that biological elements including intellect, emotions, and psychology define the difference between men and women. Secondly, she thrives on the argument that judging women as socially weak and that they cannot be equal to men is stereotypically scented to contravene what is true. Such a literal stance has since been established as correct in the contemporary American culture. Apparently, in the US, there are high rates of employment for women in some states, women and men share domestic chores, the employment gaps between both genders are getting smaller with time, and people are less segregated on gender. However, it should be noted that America remains a patriarchal society to date, considering that the US presidency is dominated by males, the Congress and the judiciary as well as the executive. The inequality is a clear proof that the economic, social, and political platforms are dominated by men in the US, hence the relevance of the work of Rich in the poem Diving into the Wreckage in the modern American society because the speaker claims female Patriarchal culture is real in the American society.

The Speaker's Courageous Stance

Indeed, the patriarchal theme in the American culture in the twentieth century remains a significant element of political and social concern in the twenty-first century in the American culture as aforementioned hitherto. By making a decision to dive into the deep sea alone is a clear picture that the speaker of the poem has decided to go for the truth in solitude, despite the accompanying danger. Such a formidable decision calls for a courageous and an audacious stance, to go against the grain of the society, and repel what is perceived to be true for the sake of demystifying the reality beyond the new normal. The speaker is alone and does not have assistants for help. The treacherous moves under the sea are peculiar and life threatening, but it is worth the risk considering that the author needs to create a platform for reason and principal truth in a politically and socially misadvised society.

Pessimism and Hope

The poem is pessimistic in nature, in that the speaker reveals how the community is full of patriarchal practices, "we are the half-destroyed instruments that once held to a course the water-eaten log the fouled compass We are, I am, you are by cowardice or courage the one who find our way back to this scene" (Rich 3). Men embrace their beliefs to suppress the potential of women without realizing that equality is necessary for both genders to thrive. The wreckage has been destroyed beyond recovery, and there is little hope for any woman to revive the instrument for use. In fact, men are equally challenged whether they can put back to use the wreck because the speaker represents both genders: male and female in one. The poem thus shows that men limit themselves by thwarting the roles of women; hence the need for liberation of the female gender gives everybody a chance to exploit their full social and political capabilities. Nevertheless, the pessimism is brought low by the female face curved against the sun in the wreck, which gives an optimistic hope; and the treasure in the wreck, which portrays a new chance for the female gender to thrive again beyond the limits of time and centuries even after the male dominance.

Works Cited

Rich, Adrienne. Diving into the Wreckage by Adrienne RichAdrienne Rich (1929–2012). Ed. Adrienne Rich. Vol. 6. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012.

Schwartz, M. A. “Interactions Between Social Movements and US Political Parties.” Party Politics 16.5 (2010): 587–607. Web.

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