Against Still Life Essay Research Paper In

Against Still Life Essay, Research Paper 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.

Against Still Life Essay, Research Paper

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. She

is having a hard time understanding this man and wants to know what?s 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 what?s 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 I?d 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 that he doesn?t and won?t tell her that he

has these feelings. Atwood wants to be able to relate her feelings to his

feelings any way she can, and she feels as though his orange silence will not

let her. Atwood paints the scene beautifully. A man and a women, sitting across

from one another at a table and in the center of the table, an orange,

?Orange, in the middle of the table? [a]nd you, sitting across the table, at

a distance with your smile contained, and like the orange in the sun;

silent?? {Quote}. This could be taking place somewhere as simple as

Atwood?s personal kitchen or maybe in a park at a picnic bench. The woman is

sitting there with orange and man in perfect line of view. She first stares at

the orange. Her eyes move from the orange to the man and she notices how alike

they are because she has no idea what?s going on in the inside of either one.

The situation then becomes uncomfortable for Atwood as she realizes she is

sitting across from someone who is as quiet and awkwardly easily compared to an

orange. She wants to know everything about the man including past, present and

future. It is not enough that he is just smiling, sitting across from her. As

she continues to describe her intense feelings on how she wants to know what?s

inside the man, she mentions a thing of great importance. Instead of the poem

being an actual scene, it could really be taking place anywhere. Maybe she is

describing an on-going thought, in which she feels the same wonderment whenever

she is sitting across from this man. So, she says, ?and you, man, orange

afternoon lover, wherever you sit across from me (tables, trains, buses) if I

watch quietly enough and long enough.? It seems as though Atwood realizes that

she may never really ever know what the man is thinking, and she will probably

always have the same thoughts when sitting across from the man, wherever they

are. The reader can now identify with this situation. Atwood weaves words

together so that it could be any woman or man, any where, any place, sitting

across from a person of the opposite sex wanting to know what the other is all

about. Atwood discovers that through each conversation she would find, ?there

are mountains inside your skull garden and chaos, ocean and hurricane; certain

corners of rooms, portraits of great-grandmothers, curtains of a particular

shade; your deserts; our private dinosaurs; the first woman?(Muller 256).

These sorts of answers could only be explained and interpreted through several

conversations through life. And even then, the answers given to Atwood?s

questions might not be understood and she would be left off right where she left

off, with no true understanding at all. But she doesn?t care, she wants to

know everything from the beginning.