Adrienne Rich

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How is content of the poem "History" by Adrienne Rich relevant to its title?

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Tressa Beahan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Based on this question, I am going to focus on theme in order to best answer you.

Theme is defined as the universal, underlying message an author communicates through a text. In the case of “History” by Adrienne Rich, one might say that the chief thematic idea Rich addresses is how history is a complex set of circumstances that have often unintended consequences.

To see how the title helps convey this message, it is important to examine how Rich intertwines global historical events with the personal facts of her own past. For example, Rich juxtaposes the news of the end of World War II with a memory of learning how to apply lipstick. One could interpret this choice as underscoring Rich’s idea that history is whatever one decides it is, whether it is significant or not in the larger scheme of what others might consider history.

In addition, you might examine how Rich’s evocative, almost stream of consciousness, style further contributes to this idea. The disorganized smattering of...

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Ollie Kertzmann, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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vangoghfan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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