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by Adrienne Rich

Power Theme of Suffering

There's no doubt about it: Marie Curie suffered for the sake of science. Okay, let's get real: she died as a result of her lifetime commitment to chemistry and physics. The radium that she discovered eventually killed her, and so the poem asks: was the sacrifice of a life worth all that science gained? We think Curie would say yes—she worked until she couldn't possibly work anymore. But does the poem share this point of view? It's totally up for debate. "Power" questions the lengths one should go to in the name of science and discovery. How much should one person suffer, how much should one person give up for the greater scientific good?

Questions About Suffering

  1. Does Marie Curie think that suffering for the sake of science is worth it? How can you tell?
  2. Does the poem think that suffering for the sake of science is worth it? How can you tell?
  3. Is the only type of suffering in the poem physical suffering? Or do you see other evidence of suffering?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Marie Curie's suffering was totally worth it. She helped fill out the Periodic Table, and there's nothing more important than scientific discovery.

Nothing is worth more than a human life. Not even science. (Sorry, science.)

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