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Cages And Escape: Delving Into Margaret Atwood’s “Siren Song”

971 words - 4 pages

A stereotype is a trap, a cage, which restricts individuals to one identity. Once a stereotype is created, it is hard to overcome and leaves traces of prejudice. In agreement with Alicia Ostriker’s The Thieves of Language: Women Poets and Revisionist Mythmaking, Margaret Atwood’s poem “Siren Song” is a reach out for women to express feelings on gender discrimination without coming across in a way that would engender negative support. “Siren Song”, is written from the perspective of a siren, in a mythological setting but with a contemporary tone, that is restricted to the stereotype of a seductress who seeks to sing men to their deaths but in reality, she wants to break free and find someone ...view middle of the document...

In the poem, the Siren lives up to her stereotype that she is forced into, through the beliefs of men, by consciously manipulating her victims into killing themselves. She is seen as unnatural yet desirable and is limited to “squatting”, it is not her home but she is forced to stay there, on an island (Charters 914). Men believe that this is how it should be and thereby preventing the Siren from escaping their imagined life for her, if they were to see her in a different way, then the Siren could be what she wanted. The Siren cannot even stand being “with these two feathery maniacs”, other siren, that are ‘just like her’ because she does not want anything to do with this life (Charters 914). Her song “is a cry for help” to be released from this prison created by the minds of men, wanting someone not to fall for her trap (Charters 914). The siren is stuck in a life she doesn’t want and is bored because it never changes.
While some contemporary women are stuck in a similar stereotype to the Siren in the poem, at least they can speak out, The Thieves of Language: Women Poets and Revisionist Mythmaking points out that in the 1900s “the woman writer has had to state her self-definitions in code form, disguising passion as piety, rebellion as obedience” (Ostriker 69). Female poets and writers work hard to gain some control of human language, which men have so long held onto. Women are not just silent and obedient or seductive and devilish, they are also intelligent and strong. Ostriker studied how:
…contemporary women poets employ traditional images for the female body-flower, water, earth-retaining the gender identification of these images but transforming their attributes so that flower means force instead of frailty, water means safety instead of death, and earth means creative...

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