Manipulation...Disguised As Love Essay

1477 words - 6 pages

According to the Academy of American Poets, Margaret Atwood, was born Ottawa, Ontario in 1939. Margaret had both a Bachelor’s degree from Victoria College, University of Toronto as well as a Master’s degree from Harvard. Atwood is the author of more than fifteen books of poetry which have been translated into multiple languages as well as published in over twenty-five countries. Margaret has also received many honors for her work and was even named woman of the year for Ms. Magazine in 1986. Atwood has taught at many Universities and today resides in Toronto (Academy). Among her works is a poem called, Orpheus, a poem that alludes to the myth of Orpheus. Atwood writes the poem from the female perspective to convey the feelings of manipulation and the selfish needs of Orpheus. In both the myth and the poem the male character is manipulative and disguises his selfish needs as love for the female character.
According to classical versions of the myth, Orpheus loses his wife and ruins his attempt to bring her back. “The bride, just wed, met death/she stepped upon a snake; the viper sank its teeth into her ankle” (CITATION). When Eurydice is bitten by a snake and dies, Orpheus makes the journey to Hades to retrieve her. “The poet dared to cross the gate of Taenarus, to seek his wife among the Shades consigned to Styx” (CITATION). His actions may seem like love but are actually his desire to control her: Without her, he lacks power and control. Orpheus knows that with his voice he can manipulate anyone and anything, “Then Orpheus plucked his lyre as he sang”: He uses this skill in Hades to convince the gods to release her (CITATION). Orpheus fails to bring his wife back from the dead. Though his manipulation skills worked, “Moved by Orpheus’ song, the Furies wept—the only tears the Furies ever shed”, he failed to bring his wife back to life. He almost had his obedient wife back but he looked back, “But at last, they’d almost reached the upper world, when he, afraid that she might disappear again and longing to see her, turned to gaze back at his wife”, and lost her a second time. Orpheus did not make the journey to the underworld because he loved her, he needed her. Orpheus needed her to be his subordinate so he could feel powerful, in control, and fulfill his desires.
Atwood writes the modern poem in the point of view of Eurydice with the message that the woman Eurydice represents is manipulated, controlled, and overpowered by the man in her life. The poem begins with Eurydice following Orpheus out of Hades. The woman is describing being pulled out against her will in lines 1 through 4 where she says “You walked in front of me,/pulling me back out/to the green light that had once/grown fangs and killed me." (CITATION) The woman does not describe herself as following; she describes it as being taken against her will. In the poem the woman may not be in Hades, she may just be moved out and he is coming to bring her back home to live with him....

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