Against Still Life

1167 WORDS
Read the full essay 1167 words
Against Still Life

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 readers 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
Atwoods desire to know this mans 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 doesnt 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. Atwoods attitude in the poem is
very demanding and unknowing. She is a woman who wants answers about a man. She
is having a hard time understanding this man and wants to know whats going on
inside his head. This happens to describe Atwood perfectly because she once said
her husband (who is also a writer) was [b]etter than a dentist. At least
another writer knows why you are being so strange. And you can take long
vacations (Author Profile). In the poem, Atwood compares an orange to the
man. It is said that Atwood often writes of food in her publications because she
feels as though women have come to feel uncomfortable with themselves and food.
"Atwood probes the prohibitions on the public display of female appetite
and the social taboos which surround women and food in terms of the politics of
eating" (Parker). I believe Atwood does this to make herself and the reader
feel more comfortable with the frustrations she describes. She can only see the
outside of the orange in the same way that she can only see the outside of the
man. But she wants more than that, I want to pick it up in my hand I want to
peel the skin off; I want more to be said to me than just Orange: want to be
told everything it has to say (Muller 255). She wants to know all she can
about the man, and it is driving her crazy not knowing whats really going on
inside that head of his. There is a constant battle in our world; men want to
know how women really work and think, and women want to know what men really
work and think. Atwood even mentions that she knows the man is thinking the same
thing she is, and she wants to make him say it out load. [M]ake me want to
wrench you into saying: now Id crack your skull like a walnut, split it like
a pumpkin to make you talk, or get a look inside (Muller 256). She knows that
this man has the same thoughts about her. She knows that he has this
overwhelming desire to understand her by knowing everything and anything about
her. It frustrates her even more