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Women's Self-Definition Through Poetry

Olivia Samimy

This project looks at five female poets across history – Anne Bradstreet, Aphra Behn, Forough Farrokhzad, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath – to explore the various challenges they faced writing in their patriarchal societies. Further, it looks at the way they each used their poetry to define themselves and their own identity. This project seeks to explain why this act of self-definition is significant, and why it so often drew criticism from the writers’ respective societies. What was discovered, is that the act of a woman crafting her own self-definition through poetry is a privilege in a patriarchal society, where it is so often up to men to define the role of a woman. Women’s self-definition through poetry is threatening to the structure of a patriarchal society because it undermines the accepted idea that a woman should exist only to serve others.