Most people have the desire to be themselves in the world that tries to make them something else and the desire to be free is accomplished by seeking freedom from oppression. Most women suffer in marriages that are oppressive in nature and they always desire to free themselves from these kinds of marriages.
Rich in her book depicts a woman who is trapped in the cultural constraints and the responsibilities of a married life. Rich depict Jennifer as a woman who is physically and mentally weak. For instance in stanza two, her fingers are fluttering through her wool and she finds it difficult to pull the needle (Rich 31). The massive weight of the wedding band that sits heavily on the her hand is also an indication that the responsibilities she has in her marriage burdens her to an extent that she can not exploit her full potentials in a society that is dominated by men. Zora Neale Hurston creates and builds the theme of oppression in marriage through a character called Delia.
Delia is a woman who is abused by her abusive and controlling husband Sykes. Sykes does all sort of things to make sure that Delia feels small and useless in the society. For instance he tells her "Ah'm so tired of you Ah don't know whut to do. Gawd! How Ah hates skinny wimmen!" (Hurston 23). By telling her this, she wants her to feel oppressed. Other than the verbal abuse, Delia is also physical oppressed. For instance the town people especially Elijah Moseley says that "Too much knockin' will ruin any 'oma. He done beat huh 'nough tuh kill three women, let alone change they looks" (Hurston 35). This indicates that Delia was oppressed verbally and physically in her marriage.
Rich shows how Jennifer craves for freedom from the oppressive marriage and society. For instance the knitted tapestry by her symbolizes her desire to be free. That is, she wants to be fearless, noble, powerful and also assertive just like the tiger who is so self assured, confident and happy (Rich 31). Delia achieves her freedom through knitting. Even though her dying will free her from the her present oppressive marriage, she will remain terrified because of the wedding ring which still binds her to the oppression that that had complete control of her.
The only hope for her freedom from her present state is through the art work which she finally escapes to by depicting proud, prancing and unafraid tigers as her desire but she only attains this through imagination. Hurston develops the character Delia from a woman who is meek to one who is capable of defending herself from both the physical and the verbal abuses and along with her new found strength, Delia ends her relationship with Sykes when he succumbs to death and this death makes Delia to be in a position to be in control of her life and thus attain freedom from the oppressive marriage and this freedom allows her to achieve her dream of having a happy life.
In conclusion the theme of oppression in marriage is evident in both Rich's and Hurston's work in that both Jennifer and Delia are either physically, emotionally or verbally abused. But it is the role of women to seek ways of making themselves free from these oppressive marriages.