by Adrienne Rich
Power Theme of Women and Femininity
Sure, "Power" is not explicitly about the fact that Marie Curie was an all around barrier-breaking chick, but we'd be remiss not to point out the fact that she was totally ahead of her time as a female scientist. She was off discovering radium twenty years before women could even vote in the U.S. (just to give you a little frame of reference). Marie Curie is famous for being a scientist, but she's become an icon for being a woman scientist.
Questions About Women and Femininity
- What is the role of gender in "Power"? Do you think it even has a role in the poem? Does it matter to the speaker that Curie was a woman? How can you tell?
- Do you think the poem would be as powerful if it were about a man whose research eventually brought about his death? Why or why not?
- Imagine that you had no idea who Marie Curie was. Would the poem still make an emotional impact? Or do you need to understand her status as a female scientist to be affected by the poem?
Chew on This
Curie's gender is totally not important in "Power." This poem would pack just as big of a punch if it were about a dude.
The fact that Curie was a woman is totally important to "Power," because only a woman would have kept mum about the negative effects of her work.