Origins and History of Consciousness by Adrienne Rich

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Characters

The poet herself is the main character in “Origins and History of Consciousness”, a poem in her book The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974-1977. Adrienne Rich examines her relationship with poetry, her idols, and her lovers. The main theme of the poem is connecting—a common theme throughout Rich’s writing career. She discusses wanting to connect with other people through both poetry and touch. ”Dead heroines” and lovers become characters in the poem. She mentions a lover, and how difficult it is to sustain a real connection when their love is not openly accepted. She talks about the dead women on the walls, her idols. She wants to connect with them, yet she feels pressured to live up to them.