Study Guide

Power Women and Femininity

By Adrienne Rich

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

  1. 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?
  2. 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?Ā 
  3. 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.