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Margaret Atwood Research Paper Margaret Atwood

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    Margaret Atwood Essay, Research Paper

    Margaret Atwood is a widely recognized literary figure, particularly known for her subjects of feminism. Her novels, including Alias Grace and The Handmaid ’ s Tale are widely known for their women’s rightist capable affair, and one finds the same powerful subjects within her poesy. Judy Klemesrud, in her article for The New York Times, one time made the wise recognition that “ Peoples follow her on the streets and in shops, seeking autographs and desiring to discourse the characters in her novels- most of whom are intelligent, self-involved modern adult females seeking for individuality. These adult females besides suffer greatly, and as a consequence, some Canadian critics have dubbed her ‘ the high priestess of angst ’ ” ( March 28, 1982 ) . Indeed, Margaret Atwood has a endowment for the scruples feministic position, and the tone of much of her work seems to bespeak her sense of political duty. Her verse form “ Spelling, ” for illustration, is a testament to the power of words and it depicts the victimization of impotence of adult females without linguistic communication. Atwood describes her girl on the floor, larning how to spell for the first clip, and so leads the reader through a history of persecuted, incapacitated adult females. For case, Atwood depicts “ the adult female caught in the war/ & A ; in labor, her thighs tied/ together by the enemy/ so she could non give birth ” ( 803 ) . Such distressing portraitures of adult females have earned Atwood the repute as a audacious women’s rightist. Yet it is of import to acknowledge that her poesy is non merely about feminist subjects, it is besides an geographic expedition into the deepnesss of human consciousness and solitariness. This consciousness, paired with her wonders about the power of linguistic communication, is seen in many of her poetic subjects. Atwood focuses on different literary and artistic genres in her poesy, runing from post cards to snap to magazine word pictures of love, in order to research human connexions. Although much of her work may look dauntlessly feministic, in the sense that it brings explores female status without modesty or embarrassment, Atwood ’ s poetry investigations into a genderless consciousness to research feelings of human connectionedness and painful separations.

    The first verse form that will be examined in this paper is “ Variations on the Word Sleep. ” The storyteller of the verse form instantly addresses their scruples demand to link with the other individual, and they besides recognize the hopelessness of this end: “ I would wish to watch you kiping, / which may non go on ” . The gap to the verse form, as we see here, could be considered typical of Atwood ’ s composing in the sense that one individual longs to bond with another, and recognizes the trouble. It is this type of exposure that we have come to anticipate in Margaret Atwood ’ s Hagiographas, because as with many feminist Hagiographas, we are cognizant of the power battle between work forces and adult females, and even between adult females. But this verse form refrains from placing sexes ; it merely discusses a deeply internal demand of one individual for another, who is on a journey through he dark labyrinth of their consciousness. The first stanza evolves from a simple supplication from the genderless talker to watch their lover slumber, to a deeper, religious demand. Atwood chooses to stay equivocal in this regard, which helps a wider audience identify with the work.

    The verse form besides has virtue because within seven short, simplistic lines we glide from a soft yearning to a love composite and intense, with two heads unifying together in a dream: “ I would wish to watch you, / kiping. I would wish to sleep/ with you, to enter/ your slumber as its smooth dark wave/ slides over my head. ” The action of the verse form continues to germinate as Atwood carries the reader through what appears to be a lover ’ s dream or phantasy. The storyteller at first wants merely to watch their lover slumber, so they desire to come in the same slumber with them, so they envision themselves falling through the beds of consciousness. As the reader follows along with the look up toing storyteller and his or her comrade, they become progressively cognizant of the storyteller ’ s need for transcendency. Atwood uses words that help steer us along the action, such as “ ticker, ” “ enter, ” “ over, ” “ descend, ” “ follow, ” and “ become. ” All of these words are effectual in doing the reader feel as if they excessively are faltering along side of the storyteller, urgently seeking to come in the deepnesss of their lover.

    Furthermore, the storyteller is so dying and passionate, that they are willing to follow their lover towards their worst fright in order to protect them “ from the heartache at the center. ” This is particularly interesting in the facet of feminism because Atwood ’ s female characters, particularly in his novels, are normally model of accomplishment and authorization. If one is to presume the storyteller in this verse form is female, than Atwood is depicting a adult female trailing her adult male in a despairing effort to go his centre, and even to “ be the air/ that inhabits you for a moment/ merely. I would wish to be that unnoticed/ that necessary. ” The word “ unnoticed ” here could be seen in a couple different visible radiations, as could the full subject of the verse form. On one manus, the storyteller is cut downing him or herself to being virtually unseeable, by going the air of their lover. Given Atwood ’ s aptitude for leveling the power structures between males and females in her novels, this type of cleaving and despair seems out of character with her authorship. Yet on the other manus, she has abstained from placing sexes, and the poesy itself is distressingly honorable and romantic in its portraiture of forfeit. The storyteller is acknowledging that the object of their fondness, whether they be male or female, has a consciousness worth researching, and they are willing to transport this individual manner from darkness. The other ground that this verse form should be valued is because of Atwood ’ s usage of the elements. The imagination of the verse form moves from H2O ( “ smooth dark moving ridge ” ) to Earth ( forest, cave ) to H2O once more ( “ go the boat that would row you ” ) to fire ( “ a fire in two cupped custodies ” ) so eventually, air ( “ I would wish to be the air that inhabits you ” ) . The verse form “ Variations of the Word Sleep ” is an first-class illustration of Atwood ’ s endowment for uncovering feelings of separations and besides for demoing the love affair in giving up 1s ’ ain individuality for the interest of love. This subject is non typical to what the populace would see ruthlessly feminist, but Atwood ’ s Hagiographas redefine the kingdom of what adult females desire and deserve in love.

    The following verse form that this paper will discourse is the verse form “ Variations on the Word Love. ” This verse form is similar to “ Variations on the Word Sleep ” in the sense that the thought of love evolves from a simplistic, shallow relationship to realm of love that explores new significances of human connexion and consciousness. The first stanza even seems to be a jeer of the thought of love, because Atwood ’ s words ring of cynicism: “ This is a word we use to plug/ holes with. It ’ s the right size for those warm/ spaces in address, for those ruddy heart/ shaped vacancies on the page that look nil / like existent Black Marias. Add lace/ and you can sell/ it. ” ( 802 ) . This verse form, at least ab initio, seems to suit Atwood ’ s repute as a staunch “ feminist ” better than the latter verse form, in the sense of “ feminism ” as a motion which rejects love and work forces and all things traditional. Atwood ’ s first few lines cut down the word “ love ” to an object of convenience. Her words are extremely detering, as “ love ” is simply something sold for commercial value ( “ add lacing on it. . . ” ) and cutesy magazine advertizements “ There are whole/ maga

    zines with non much in them/ but the word love, you can/ rub it all over your organic structure and you/ can cook with it too” ( 802 ) . Again, here we see a spot more of the feminist subject we’ve come to anticipate from Margaret Atwood. She like an expert mocks the type of women’s literature that provides its reader’s with mushy love affair, heavy aromas, and cooking formulas. Yet, as earlier, it is of import to construe Atwood’s purposes right. Assuming “Variations on the Word Sleep” was written in a sincere tone, we know that love, for Atwood, transcends the boundaries of commerce and even conventional devotedness. Atwood is non stating that love is an over-rated, half-imagined construct created by Hallmark or Cosmo that should be rejected by intelligent females. She is utilizing her poesy to redefine the boundaries of love.

    Her attack in this verse form is from a post-modernist point of position, because she recognizes that words can be powerful, yet frequently awkward at keeping significance. Her 2nd stanza becomes more personal, demoing the spread between what the shrunken word “ love ” and what it can be, in world, between psyche couples: “ Then there ’ s the two/ of us. This word/ is far excessively short for us, it has only/ four letters, excessively sparse/ to make full those deep bare/ vacuities between the stars/ that imperativeness on us with their hearing loss ” ( 802 ) . So once more, Atwood has efficaciously evolved the construct of love. And she has let her feminist colourss glimmer in her portraiture of modern adult females ’ s magazines, while demoing that connexions between two people are intensive and undefinable. This verse form is besides challenging because she manages to come to the same feelings of weakness towards the terminal of the verse form that we saw glances of in “ Variations on the Word Sleep. ” Atwood described the word love as being “ individual vowel in this metallic/ silence, a oral cavity that says/ O once more and once more in wonder/ and hurting, a breath, a finger/ clasp on a cliffside ” ( 802 ) . Here, Atwood captures the despair of love while besides happening new angles with which to observe it. Her last stanza gives the reader a feeling of transcendency without a individual usage of the word “ love, ” which strengthens her subject. As in the old verse form, her description of the emotions shared between two people has surpassed conventional readings of familiarity.

    The 3rd verse form, “ Postcard, ” is yet another illustration of Atwood ’ s endowment for redesigning the construct of love. Merely as we have seen before, Atwood is interested in the ways in which both words and literary mediums convey the sense of human relationships. In this verse form, she surveies the words that might travel on a conventional post card, and besides how world differs from the usual declarations of love that come in the mail. The first line of the verse form is representative of what one might anticipate on the dorsum of a post card: “ I ’ m thought of you. What else can I state? ” but Atwood instantly dissects the allusion of an ideal holiday with a perfect love waiting across the sea. She describes the milieus as being dirty and dissatisfactory, and the reader gets the sense that her words may use to the storyteller ’ s relationship every bit good: “ What we have are the usual/ fractured coke bottles and the smell/ of backed-up drains, excessively sweet, / like a Mangifera indica on the verge/ of putrefaction, which we have besides ” . One must be careful non to oversimplify Atwood ’ s images here, but it is interesting to construe this putrid environment as a metaphor for the disintegrating relationship between the author and the addressee. The “ backed-up drains, ” for case, and the decomposition sugariness are declarative of the verse form ’ s dark, belittling tone.

    This verse form delineates from the feelings of intense love in the other two verse forms, but it is of import to detect that Atwood has avoided, yet once more, packaging the two characters into sexual individualities, therefore, the reader is free to construe the relationship in “ Postcard ” harmonizing to their ain experience or imaginativeness. What is besides evident in “ Postcards ” is that Atwood sidesteps the usual furnishings of what we expect love to be. “ Variations on the Word Sleep ” depicts a psychological or dream-like journey which intensified the thought of connexion and forfeit, while “ Variations of the Word Love ’ pulls new intending out of such connexions by denying the decrease of linguistic communication. “ Postcard ” is surely less optimistic about love, but once more we see Atwood trying to exceed the mundaneness of love affair. Just as magazines are frequently awkward at capturing the kernel of our connexions, so are bromidic holiday post cards. Alternatively of utilizing the dorsum of the post card for forced simpleness and decreased senses of clip, Atwood writes “ clip comes in moving ridges here, a illness, one/ twenty-four hours after the other turn overing on ; / I move up, its called/ awake, so down into the uneasy / darks but ne’er / forward ” . Again, Atwood has a perceptive sense of motion in her poesy. As we have seen before, she used words such as “ enter, ” “ over, ” and “ follow, ” in the old lines, and in “ Postcards ” Atwood rocks her readers into squeamishness with the words “ turn overing on, ” “ up, ” “ down into, ” and “ ne’er froward. ” The storyteller ’ s holiday has become an absurd foreign incubus, and the “ calendered image ” on the forepart of the post card serves as a metaphor for the dark worlds of being disconnected from others.

    In decision, Margaret Atwood ’ s poesy is non what one might anticipate from a feminist author. While her novels such as The Handmaid ’ s Tale and Alias Grace explore the feminine position, her poesy can be characterized by its genderless witting and its unconventional portraiture of love. Atwood ’ s poetic voice defies the furnishings of feminism in the sense that it embraces romantic images. Atwood shows the reader, through such verse forms as “ Variations on the Word Sleep ” that love transcends ordinary human activity, and chases it even into the deepnesss of our consciousness and deepest frights. This verse form captures the beauty of love by avoiding gender furnishings and by transporting the reader through the boundaries of linguistic communication. This is besides true of her verse form “ Variations on the Word Love, ” where Atwood gives us what linguistic communication is incapable of and reshapes the linguistic communication of human connexion. Of class, Atwood ’ s poesy should non be oversimplified. In the verse form “ Postcards ” we see a resurgence of the “ high priestess of angst ” that is prevailing in her novels. “ Postcards ” is undoubtedly bitter: “ Love comes/ in moving ridges like the ocean, a illness which goes on/ & A ; on, a hollow cave/ in the caput, filling and buffeting, a kicked ear. ” But once more, Atwood has found a descriptive linguistic communication to redefine love and overstep gender issues. The poetic voice in this verse form makes the hurting of absence clear to the reader, and once more, we feel the power and hurting of human connexions. Atwood Peels off the beds of consciousness to uncover a multi-faceted position on a normally clich? capable. Love, through Atwood ’ s poesy, transcends our outlooks of humanity and gender.


    1. Atwood, Margaret. Waterstone ’ s Poetry Lecture. Delivered at Hav On Wye. Wales, June 1995.

    2. Brownley, Martine Watson. “ The Muse as Fluffball ” : Margaret Atwood and the Poetry of the Intelligent Woman. p. 34-51. University of Notre Dame Press, 1999.

    3. Ellmann, Richard. Modern Poems: A Norton Introduction. p. 797-803. W.W. Norton and Company, 1973.

    4. Klemesrud, Judy. High Priestess of Angst. New York Times, March 28, 1982

    5. Oates, Joyce C. Margaret Atwood: Poet. New York Times, May 21, 1978

    6. Snell, Marilyn. Mother Jones, Jul/ Aug97, Vol22 Issue 4, p24, 4p, 2c

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