Adrienne Rich's "Diving Into the Wreck"

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Adrienne Rich uses many poetic resources in her poem "Diving into the Wreck." In this poem a diver goes on a trip to investigate a shipwreck in the socially accepted schema. Rich shifts the role of the hero and the strategy for success in her second schema. In the second schema the hero goes on a journey where she discovers her true identity, both female and male. The hero prepares for the journey into the sea by reading the book of myths, collecting a camera and knife, and putting on a diving suit. The diver is alone, unlike Jacques Cousteau, who had a team to accompany him on his dives. She brings a camera because she will find things on her dive that she does not want to forget. The persona wears "absurd flippers" and an "awkward mask" (Vendler, 503). Although her gear is clumsy on land, it is necessary to survive under water. The persona descends down a ladder into the sea. The repetition of the phrase "I go down" in the third stanza show that this is a slow and gradual process. In the second schema the persona can be seen as preparing for a journey that will change her. Before leaving, the persona reads "the book of myths," for guidance, this book might be seen as a metaphor for the untrue stereotypes of women or it could be a metaphor for the myths of written history that do not tell women's stories. The persona puts on a mask to go into another world. This is a journey she must take by herself; she must learn her own truths. Changes start to occur in the persona as she steps down the ladder, "I crawl like an insect down the ladder" (Vendler, 504). The persona has started to change even before she reaches the water. The object of the expedition is to explore a ship wreck, or a ship that has failed. The wreck could be a metaphor for the lost contributions to history and society that were never made by women who were oppressed. The hero enters the water and the starts to see black instead of the familiar blues and greens of life on land. Her mask helps her...
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