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Woman, Land and Nation

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    The word “ecocriticism” was likely foremost used in William Rueckert’s essay “Literature and Ecology: An Experiment in Ecocriticism” ( 1978 ) and was later accepted in critical vocabulary when Cheryll Glotfelty. at that clip a alumnus pupil at Cornell. revived the term in the meeting of the Western Literature Association in Coeur d’Alene in 1989. and recommended the usage of the term to mention to the scattered critical field that had been known as “the survey of nature authorship. ” Glotfelty defines ecocriticism as “the survey of the relationship between literature and the physical environment. Just as feminist unfavorable judgment examines linguistic communication and literature from a gender-conscious position. and Marxist unfavorable judgment brings an consciousness of manners of production and economic category to its reading of texts. ecocriticism takes an earth-centered attack to literary surveies. ” He farther states that “ . . . all ecological unfavorable judgment portions the cardinal premiss that human civilization is connected to the physical universe. impacting it and affected by it. Ecocriticism takes as its topic the interconnectednesss between nature and civilization. specifically the cultural artefacts linguistic communication and literature.

    As a critical stance. it has one pes in literature and the other on land ; as a theoretical discourse. it negotiates between the human and the nonhuman. ” ( Glotfelty xviii ) . Simon Estok argues that ecocriticism is more than “simply the survey of Nature or natural things in literature ; instead. it is any theory that is committed to set uping alteration by analysing the function–thematic. artistic. societal. historical. ideological. theoretical. or otherwise–of the natural environment. or facets of it. represented in paperss ( literary or other ) that contribute to material patterns in stuff worlds” ( Estok 16-17 ) . Thus it may be stated that ecocriticism tends to analyse the analogies between ecosystems and inventive texts and postulates that such texts potentially have an ecological ( regenerative. regenerating ) map in the cultural system ( Zapf ) . Margaret Atwood ( B. 1939 ) – Canada’s extraordinary adult female of letters – has made her repute as much by being various as by being controversial. Atwood’s verse form reflects a post-modern accent on linguistic communication as constitutive of world. the signifiers are discontinuous. and her thematic focal point is on about all the cardinal issues: revisioning and remythologizing the past. political relations. peace. ecology. victimization. endurance. and the complex web of human relationships. A author of international prominence. Atwood is at the same clip a poet. novelist. critic. and short-story author.

    The conventional readings of Atwood Centres round her projection of adult female characters in her novels. the societal buildings. her constructs of victimization and endurance and her longing to gain individuality for adult females and Canada as a state. With the turning concern over environmental issues and the function of literature. Atwood becomes more and more pertinent because of the profound ecological deductions in her plants which clearly reflects Atwood’s ecological ideas refering human-nature relationship. Margaret Atwood. the girl of Carl and Margaret Killam Atwood. was born on 18 November 1939 in Ottawa. She is the second of three kids in a household with strong cultural roots in Nova Scotia. Atwood besides spent a big portion of her turning up in the wilderness of northern Quebec. where her male parent. a professional bugologist. pursued his research. Even after settling in Toronto in 1946. Atwood continued to see the northern forests in summer along with her parents. This childhood experience in the Canadian wilderness provided the background for her nature poetry.

    Atwood’s first book of poetry. Double Persephone was published in 1961 and was awarded with E. J. Pratt Medal that twelvemonth. This little aggregation of poetry is focused on the doubleness inherent in the classical myth of Persephone every bit good as of the schematization of the universe in footings of two parts. The rubric verse form conveys a sense of the universe where there is the contrast between art and life. the inactive and kinetic. In 1966. Atwood’s 2nd aggregation of poetry. The Circle Game appeared and received a Governor General’s Award in that twelvemonth. The verse form of this aggregation received the international attending because of their capable and tone. With the publication of The Circle Game. Atwood became a major voice in the feminist argument over personal relationships. The same self-contradictory dichotomy of procedure and merchandise. performing artist and performed. Godhead and creative activity. is the cardinal concern of Atwood’s following volume of poetry. The Animals in That Country ( 1968 ) . One of Atwood’s most absorbing books of poetry. The Journals of Susana Moodie ( 1970 ) . is based on narrations of the life of the Canadian innovator lady of letters Susana Moodie.

    Moodie provides Atwood with a character of researching the dualities of colonial Canada. In her following aggregation of poetry. Procedures for Underground ( 1970 ) . there are a figure of verse forms covering with household history and Atwood besides extends her capable affair to include the nature and the function of the creative person. With the publication of Power Politics ( 1971 ) and You Are Happy ( 1974 ) . Atwood’s public visibleness increased. In Power Politics. Atwood voices the woman’s concern for carving out a female infinite in the patriarchal construction of the society ; she undertakings adult female as victim who is denied from her ain individuality. Love between adult male and adult female is a game of power where adult male colonizes and consumes the flesh of adult female. In the “Circe/ Mud Poems” of You Are Happy. there is a transmutation of this relationship where the adult female supporter rejects the traditional functions of adult females and prefers the love and relationship with adult male on the land of equality and compassion.

    In Two-Headed Poems ( 1978 ) . Atwood returns to a concern that first emerged in Survival ( 1972 ) : the complexnesss of being Canadian. The verse form of this aggregation besides reflect many of the subjects Atwood was researching in her prose Hagiographas and novels. In True Stories ( 1981 ) . art and life meet and struggle. Interlunar ( 1984 ) opens with a series of “Snake Poems” which reiterate the cardinal preoccupation of Atwood: victimization. Women. like serpents. suffer from the prepossessions. superstitious notions. falsehoods. and force of others. Subjects of decease and power. force. normally against adult females. remain the cardinal motive in this series of verse forms. From Double Persephone ( 1961 ) to Interlunar ( 1984 ) . during this period of her literary calling. Margaret Atwood moved from a trust on the conventions of traditional lyric poesy to an complete easiness in the prosodic conventions of her coevalss. Likewise. her thematic focal point besides changes with that easiness from Canadian patriotism to Modernism ; ecology to political relations ; victimization to survival. Margaret Atwood is both a ironist and a visionary.

    She holds a mirror up to our times. whose multiple refractions challenge our definition of world. and more significantly. demand that we change those universes in which we live. For Atwood sees clearly where the humanity stands with all its jumble. its muss ; and the ironist Atwood reflects it through her verse forms. In Atwood’s first book of poetry. Double Persephone the paradox established by the contrast between dynamic. natural. originative procedure and inactive. unnatural. created merchandise generates many of her ulterior verse forms: Two-Headed Poems. Procedures for Underground. The Animals in that Country and most strongly in Power Politics. The same self-contradictory dichotomy of procedure and merchandise. performing artist and performed. Godhead and creative activity. is the cardinal concern of Atwood’s following volume of poetry. The Animals in That Country ( 1968 ) .

    In the verse form ‘Speeches for Doctor Frankenstein’ . “the poet becomes a performing artist with a scalpel. skilled and commanding ; but the poet is besides a Godhead who inquiries the cogency and effects – on himself and on others – of his creative activity. ” ( Hutcheon 21 ) In ‘The Reincarnation of Captain Cook’ . the adventurer. in his old age. realizes that his error or failure lies in admiting the names. maps. the history that preceded him on his ocean trips. thereby doing his finds of “a known / land. a state. ” . already ordered by adult male. The “animals in that country” are dead or domesticated. or hunted. “This” state. in contrast. is the life. unknown one where animate beings still die. but their deceases. like their births. are portion of the natural procedure of life.

    “Progressive Insanities of a Pioneer” is viewed as a fable of Canadian colony. paperss an early settler’s failure to win a topographic point for him from the shrub. The verse form begins with the paradox of the innovator imprisoned by infinite. “with no walls. no boundary line / anywhere” . He shouted at the wilderness. “Let me out! ” The colonist tries to enforce an order on the wilderness but he fails and goes insane: “the green / vision. the nameless / giant invaded” . The verse form is besides viewed as a ineffectual attempt of Canadian adult female to happen a infinite in the wilderness of male-dominated society. “A Fortification” is a verse form of self-disclosure through metaphor of privacy. The garrison-mentality subject of the verse form. in which adult male. ironically. is held “safe” from nature:

    I have armed myself. yes I am safe: safe:the grass can’t hurt me.My senses swivel like guns in their fixed sockets:I am barriered from foliages and blood.One of Atwood’s most absorbing books of poetry. The Journals of Susana



    Moodie ( 1970 ) . is based on narrations of the life of the Canadian innovator lady of letters Susana Moodie. Moodie provides Atwood with a character of researching the dualities of colonial Canada. The book is divided into three subdivisions or “Journals” presented in Moodie’s voice. “Journal I” . is concerned about the old ages 1832 to 1840. recounts Moodie’s reaching in Canada and the inevitable disaffection of this cultivated immature Englishwoman from the people and the new land. It seems that Moodie at first lost herself in the wilderness of Canadian shrub and it besides marks the loss of her ego. She:

    entered a big darkness.It was our ainignorance we entered.( “Further Arrivals” )


    But her battle for endurance in the shrub changes her. In the poem “Departure from the Bush” . she is about ready to accept the wilderness of Canadian nature. but she still requires semisynthetic lamps to see in the dark. though she does cognize the fact that: “I need wolf’s eyes to see / the truth” ( ‘Further Arrivals’ ) . When she leaves the wilderness she feels that she is losing something she did non yet have: There was something they about taught me

    I came off non holding learned.

    The 2nd diary covers the period 1840-1871. Moodie’s old ages in Belleville. and concerns about her contemplations on society and her experience on her old ages in the shrub. She recounts her bush life in which the force of nature. the individuality of huntsman and victim. and her recognition that adult male is both portion of nature and besides alienated from it. allows Moodie to accept the dichotomy of life in the Canadian shrub. At last Moodie accepts the land as the grave of the fruit of her uterus. The poem “Death of a Young Son by Drowning” ends with: “I planted him in this country/ like a flag” .

    The 3rd diary covers the period 1871-1969. that is. to the poet’s nowadays. Atwood adds farther dimension of doubleness. the literary dead Moodie is transformed in the verse form into a originative energy and uncontrollable spirit of the land upon which the 20th century constructions of adult male rise. In the last verse form of the diary. “A Bus Along St. Clair: December” . Moodie is presented as an old lady on a coach in Toronto learning the reader to see the wilderness both beneath and within the metropolis.

    In her following aggregation of poetry. Procedures for Underground ( 1970 ) . there are a figure of verse forms covering with household history and Atwood besides extends her capable affair to include the nature and the function of the creative person who is basically a adult female and the verse forms trade with the response of the creative person to Canadian wilderness. Atwood has said that the rubric verse form. taken from Northwest Coast Indian mythology. is “one of the few verse forms I’ve written about the originative procedure. . . and I do see it as a decent to the underworld. ” ( Sandler 10 ) The belowground reverses our perceptual outlook: the Sun is green. rivers flow backwards. the hints and stones are shifted from their locations. and the dwellers are perpetually hungry. If the creative person returns safely to this universe she will return with “wisdom and great power” . but non without hurting.

    The artist’s underground cognition brings heightened. at times terrorizing. sensitiveness to the force inexplicit beneath ordinary surfaces. Images of plunging. of figures lifting from the H2O or looking in it. besides reminds of Atwood’s 2nd novel Surfacing ( 1972 ) : non surprisingly. because when Procedures for Underground appeared. Atwood was in the procedure of composing Surfacing. In “Three Desk Objects” she reflects on the development of human-kind. implying so many battles ( wars and deceases ) . before redstem storksbills. electric type-writers. and lamps could be invented. Sing these objects. she says:

    I am afraid to touch youI think you will shout out in hurtingI think you will be warm. like tegument.

    Again. Atwood’s earlier books are recalled in the images of the menacing game and of the free and caged animals in. for illustration. “Dreams of the Animals” . However. in Procedures for Underground stasis and order are seen as both necessary and endangered by nature: houses are protective but can fire down. and the thaw snow is responsible for “undermining the road” . The accent. though. is non merely on the dangers of ( and to ) the inactive rational orders of man’s concepts. but besides on the possibility of showing the moral force within the inactive: ‘seeing the ice/ as what it is. water’ . ” ( Hutcheon 23 )

    In Two-Headed Poems ( 1978 ) . Atwood returns to a concern that first emerged in Survival ( 1972 ) : the complexnesss of being Canadian. The verse form of this aggregation besides reflect many of the subjects Atwood was researching in her prose Hagiographas and novels. In Two-Headed Poems. Atwood continues to research the doubleness within: of the bosom that says. “I want. I don’t want” . and the doubleness of Canada as a state. The epigraph of the subdivision entitled “Two-Headed Poems” is:

    The caputs speak somethings singly. sometimestogether. sometimes alternately within a verse form.Like all Thai twins. they dream of separation.

    Atwood’s cardinal concern in Two-Headed Poems is the quandary of adult female in the patriarchal construction of Canadian society. In The Circle Game and Power Politics. the adult female is projected as a being whose flesh is colonized. whose eyes are captured behind mirrors and whose words are incapacitated. In You Are Happy. the relationship between adult male and adult female is tended to be on the land of equality and compassion. In Two-Headed Poems. there is farther motion of transmutation where the adult female moves beyond her map as mirroring object. and assumes her historical individuality as adult female: the adult female becomes the agent of history instead than its victim:

    As for the adult female. who did nonprivation to be involved. they are involved.It is that blood on the snowwhich turns out to be nonsome bludgeoned or machine-gunnedanimal’s. but your ainthat does it.





    In True Stories ( 1981 ) . art and life meet and struggle and the verse form of this aggregation besides reflects Canadian woman’s response to wilderness. The art and life struggle in the kingdom of love and it shows a sort of motion in Atwood’s response to the topic: Screw poesy. it’s you I want.

    your gustatory sensation. rainon you. talk on your tegument.( “Late Night” )Art and life besides engaged in struggle in the kingdom of political relations:How can I warrantthis soft verse form so in the face of sheerhorror?( “Small Poems for the Winter Solstice” )






    “Small Poems for the Winter Solstice” is a series of love verse forms included in True Stories – undertakings the ferociousness. the ‘true stories’ of the universe. The concluding verse form in the series is a speculation on the power of the poet. rather unlike the traditional love poesy in which the ideal of beloved is to be in a verse form. The poet here. opts for life with all its uncleanness and jumble. and she incorporates herself with it.

    The in-between subdivision of this aggregation. every bit good as a verse form series within it. is called “Notes Toward a Poem That can Never Be Written” . The verse form of this series express the horror and ferociousness of the events described. These verse forms are grounds. better. inexorable. and direct ; it seems that these verse forms have calculated designs on the reader ; they say. “I accuse” . The ferociousness described in “A Women’s Issue” is calculated and arresting. The series concludes with the revelation of the speaker’s sense of engagement in the imposition of agony and her response to vast unanswered wilderness:

    This wood is foreignto me. closer than tegument.unknown. something earlyas caves and buried. difficult


    a shredded rock knofe. thelong bone prevarication in darknessinside my right arm: noninexperienced person but latent.


    Affiliated with the eightiess with the human rights organisation. Amnesty International. Atwood’s preoccupation with the ferociousness and irrational atrocity of the universe every bit good as the atomization of human head in this helter-skelter state of affairs is obvious in this aggregation of verse forms. George Woodcock has observed that the verse forms read “like verse abstracts of the more agonizing subdivisions of Amnesty Inter national studies. ” ( Woodcock 139 )

    Interlunar ( 1984 ) opens with a series of “Snake Poems” which reiterate the cardinal preoccupation of Atwood: victimization. Women. like serpents. suffer from the prepossessions. superstitious notions. falsehoods. and force of others. Subjects of decease and power. force. normally against adult females. remain the cardinal motive in this series of verse forms:

    A Prunus persica in boiling H2OThis is a domestic image.Try: soft Moon with the rind off.

    In verse forms such as “Reading a Political Thriller Beside a Remote Lake in the Canadian Shield” and “The Words Continue This Journey” . the poet’s cardinal concern is evidently on Canadian woman’s response to wilderness every bit good as issues refering human rights and the authorship of poesy. Interlunar suggests that the two manners of poetry and fiction may non be easy dissociable and it reveals the perfect medium for Atwood. the poet-novelist.

    The ecocritical reading of her verse form reveals that Atwood makes a parallel survey of Canadian wilderness along with the place of adult female in the traditional Canadian patriarchal society. It is besides to be noted that Atwood herself has many times raised the voice for the protection of Canadian wilderness. “For an writer who spent so much clip plumbing the metaphoric qualities of the land. it is surprising to see how matter-of-fact Atwood is about wilderness preservation” ( Hatch 197 ) . Again in Wilderness Tips. Atwood portrays how the nature takes retaliation upon those who declare themselves eco-friendly but they really threaten the natural by rebuting its profusion. So Atwood. both in her poesy every bit good as in prose Hagiographas. depicts the contradictory human attitudes towards nature and therefore has become a powerful voice of environment saving.

    Plants cited:

    1. Estok. Simon C. “Shakespeare and Ecocriticism: An Analysis of ‘Home’ and ‘Power’ in King Lear. ” AUMLA 103 ( May 2005 ) . 2. Glotfelty. Cheryll and Harold Fromm. Eds. The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology. Athens and London: University of Georgia. 1996. 3. Hatch. Ronald B. “Margaret Atwood. the Land. and Ecology” . Margaret Atwood: Plants and Impact. Ed. Reingard M. Nischik. New York: Camden House. 2000. 4. Hutcheon. Linda. ‘Margaret Atwood’ . Canadian Writers Since 1960s: First Series. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Volume-53. Ed. W. H. New. Detroit: Gale Research Company. 1968. 5. Sandler. Linda. Ed. ‘Interview with Margaret Atwood’ . Margaret Atwood: A Symposium. Particular issue of Malahat Review. 41 ( January 1977 ) . 6. Woodcock. George. ‘Metamorphosis and Survival: Notes on the Recent Poetry of Margaret Atwood’ . Margaret Atwood: Language. Text and System. Eds. Sherrill E. Grace and Lorraine Weir. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. 1983. 7. Zapf. Hubert. “Literary Ecology and the Ethical motives of Texts. ” New Literary History 39. 4 ( 2008 ) .

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