Analysis of Against Still Life by Margaret Atwood

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Analysis of Against Still Life by Margaret Atwood In the poem Against Still Life, poet Margaret Atwood fascinates us by weaving her words into descriptive feelings we can all relate too, especially women. Atwood is a well known poet and novelist who has a certain way of grabbing the attention of the reader and throwing the reader’s thoughts around without her even realizing it. In Against Still Life for example, Atwood opens her poem with an orange, nothing more than an orange. By the end of the poem she has got the reader pondering what men think about. It is assumed that Atwood is the speaker of the poem and the setting is simply a situation most of us can find ourselves in often. The speaker of the poem is Margaret Atwood herself. She describes thoughts that would only belong to her. Atwood uses the word “I” to describe herself in the poem and “you” to describe a second party other than the reader, who we later find to be a man. The poem, seems as though it is directed as a thought to the man, not a conversation or a poem for him to read, but Atwood’s desire to know this man’s thoughts. Atwood is clever, and describes feelings and the frustrations that any woman has felt about a man. This makes us really wonder if Atwood truly feels this way, or if she is just describing feelings that a general woman have about a general man. I believe Atwood did this on purpose not only to more easily relate to the reader but because she once said in a lecture, “Plato said that poets should be excluded from the ideal republic because they are such liars. I am a poet, and I affirm that this is true. About no subject are poets tempted to lie so much as about their own lives… I of course -- being also a novelist -- am a much more truthful person than that. But since poets lie, how can you believe me?” (Atwood). This suggests that maybe Atwood doesn’t really feel this way about a man, she could have made the whole thing up simply to please and relate to her readers, but then again, she could be telling the truth. Atwood’s attitude in the poem is very demanding and unknowing. She is a woman who wants answers about a man.
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