The Role of Women Examined in Poems by Rich, Browning, and Livesay

1552 Words7 Pages
Women's roles in society have been drastically changing in the last hundred years. Gone are the days where women are regarded solely as mothers and wives. Nowadays a woman can be anything she wants to be, and do anything she wants to do. Yet this has not ended the typical expectations for women to be a beautiful, obedient wife and wonderful mother. This theme has been examined through poetry by Dorothy Livesay, Robert Browning, and Adrienne Rich, who all adapt different attitudes towards this subject. However, all poets do touch on one important aspect in all of the poems. Women's roles in society are heavily influenced by outside pressures. To begin with, Dorothy Livesay examines women's roles in her poem, “The Three Emilys”. Through the voice of the speaker, Livesay complains that she feels society has pressured her into a domestic life. She is resentful of this pressure, as she feels that it has held her back from achieving her goals, most notably success as a poet. In the last stanza, the lines, “And so the whole that I possess/Is still much less” highlight the fact that the speaker feels she has not achieved anything close to the greatness of the Emilys. She furthers this resentment by comparing herself to three women that she respects: Emily Bronte, a novelist, Emily Carr, a painter, and Emily Dickinson, a poet. None of the three Emilys married or had children, whereas Livesay married and had two children. She discusses this in the lines, “I yet posses another kingdom, barred/To them, these three, this Emily./I move as mother in a frame,/My arteries/Flow the immortal way/Towards the child, the man”. Livesay is also envious of their freedom from domestic responsibilities; this is obvious when the speaker cries out, “Yet they had liberty!”. She also expresses her resentment at choosing typical female route while the three Emilys chose a more masculine route,
Open Document