Adrienne Rich’s poem Living In Sin is a free verse poem about a woman’s fairy tale dream of marriage versus the reality of the sin of not loving each other. The subject of the poem is a woman starting a life of hope and happiness in a perfect relationship only to learn the true reality of the relationship. The speaker of the poem observes the woman’s life as sad and boring using the past tense versus the present, and short run on lines that set the hopeless mood of the poem. Imagery and colorful language is also used to describe the unhappy relationship throughout the poem.
Living In Sin shows a woman’s life without rhyme in four meaningful images and as the tone changes she sees the relationship/marriage she expected and the relationship as it actually is. To begin with the speaker uses run-on lines, past tense and tone to illustrate the first image. “She had thought the studio would keep itself… ” shows that in the beginning of the relationship she pictured a fairy tale marriage like Cinderella. There would be no chores, no dusting, everything would be a perfect marriage.
The use of past tense means she is thinking of what is not. The lines are also short and choppy making everything sound hopeless. The next line, Half heresy… the speaker comes back to the present tense of the leaky faucet, noise and dirty windows. The mood then shifts again and she paints a pretty picture of her home with fruit and happiness on the table, a piano with an expensive shawl, and a cat as a nice pet. The short, choppy run on lines makes the woman’s life appear hopeless and tired of doing this day after day.