Living in Sin

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The poem tells the story of the lovers that starts just after the fairytale of their lives has ended. Actually, it reveals the continuation of relationship where fairytale usually cuts the story at the kisses and declaration of love followed by “The End” (a story of a Princess which has to wash dishes on a day after a romantic ball). It is important to point out that the speaker is not actually the woman spoken of in the poem. The narrator here depicts the events in this couple’s daily life. Yet, it is obviously a woman, due to the tone of the poem: how she sees the careless husband and notices household disorder. Being in variance with many modern text analysts, I must say that the poem ‘Living in Sin’ is completely autobiographic. It has been written by Adrienne Rich during the first months of her own marriage and conveys her own disappointment in what is left after the romantic prelude.

To understand the poem one must notice that it is wholly built on the contrasts the author uses from sentence to sentence. The most evident contrast resides in the mood of the heroes: the indifferent, careless husband (‘he, with a yawn…’) who seems not to notice the miserable surroundings and only shrugs his shoulders at the mirror admitting the piano out of tune, and the pensive and sad wife who is distressed with the routine circle of everyday cleaning and watching the back of her lover leaving each morning for the trivial cigarettes: “ [he] rubbed at his beard, went out for cigarettes; while she, jeered by the minor demons, pulled back the sheets and made the bed and found a towel to dust the table-top…” . Adrienne Rich has been influenced by the popular image contrast of artist and his woman (generally, a family). Their married life goes in the studio, a huge room without walls or borders, without anything to confirm one’s privacy. Here we obviously see a family of artists where the woman has to play the subordinate role imposed by the society. As means...
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