Margaret Atwood is a blunt writer. She explores the fields that were reserved for the masculine figures; topics like sex, death and mayhem. Initially, poetry was thought to be in the world of the light feminine, together with needlework and flower arranging. Her literary works are vivid, witty and often sharply discomforting. She often writes about gender issues, Canadian national identity, human rights and environmental issues. In this paper, her poem “You Fit Into Me” will be effectively analyzed.
The poem “You Fit Into Me” was published in a book, ‘To Hell With Love’, which entails numerous poem collections addressing the issues of heartache and heartbreak healing. The poem is brief, the original Margaret Atwood’s style, but still manages to convey the desired message.
The poem “You Fit Into Me” explores the world of helplessness and entrapment that is in most relationships. In this given poem, Margaret addresses the pain of entrapment that exists within an unhealthy romantic relationship. The poem starts with a positive perspective, “you fit into me”, suggesting that the relationship is in a perfect equilibrium of emotion and sex. Most relationships start with such a vibe, a positive infatuation where everything is bright and brilliant, with both parties seeing their partners as their perfect fits. They fit so perfect “like a hook into an eye”, she says. The simile suggests of a secure relationship, the same way a hook and eye grasp sartorial firmly in place, like they were designed for each other, to “fit”.
Nonetheless, a twist occurs in the succeeding stanza. The so “perfect hook and eye” transform into a “fish hook” in her “open eye”. The transformation of the imagery is rather unnerving as the speaker swiftly expresses the reality and pain of her situation. What she initially thought to be “perfect” abruptly turned into a nightmare. The speaker is trapped and helpless. She cannot escape her predicament. The imagery is of a hook in an open eye, expressing the pain and the fact that the trap was right in front of her open eye. In relation, most relationship take after this pattern, they all start with a positive note and then abruptly takes a worse route where women, mostly, are trapped and helpless. In this poem, the author expresses the same sentiments. She acknowledges the naivety of her situation for falling for the same trap that has caught plenty of women for ages. A betrayal perhaps, from the perfect “fit” partner. the type of pain that one feels when hooked into an open eye – while seeing the hook come into one’s eye.
The author explores a topic that has been ignored and reserved for men to ridicule. Her boldness allows her to tackle one of the most difficult and overlooked topics of the women. Women are emotional beings who often fall prey to the unequal relationship treatment by the men. It is an awakening poem that addresses the many experiences of women in intimate relationships. The love that initially seemed very promising slowly begins to turn into a helpless trap. How a perfect partner turns against her and becomes the very thing that she dreads the most – a hook into an open eye.
The poem is an expression of real life. The author, Margaret Atwood, is a realist. She is unreserved. She does not hesitate the address issues of oppression, speaking up for most women. She is the voice that most women lack. All the issues surrounding an unequal relationship are cleverly portrayed in the short poem. From the pulsating beginning of new love to the shackles of a disrespected, unloved and forgotten love. The once cherishing and loving relationship turning to a hateful and disrespectful relationship is such an existing cliché. It is a form of overwhelming deception that is virtually impossible to escape. The author’s writings are impressive and often speak for the voiceless. The poem has been presented in a clever manner, just enough to convey the message, not too much to give it out and not too little to lack integrity. As always, her poems are brief but possess truths that cut deep.
Adrienne Rich’s “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers
Aunt Jennifer’s Tiger is a poem with two perspectives: oppression and freedom. The author similarly speaks about the troubles associated with women in marriage. In this poem, Aunt Jennifer is an oppressed woman who is persevering her oppressive situation but still manages to escape her troubles and find solace in her art. The poet, Adrienne Rich is a teacher, political activist, critic and an advocate for the rights of women. Once, she said that “poems are like dreams: in them you put what you don’t know you know” (Roberts, Edgar, & Robert, 26). In this analysis, the poem “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” might be a form a similar dream.
The three verses, quatrains, use the rhyme scheme of ‘aabbccddeeff’ while also incorporating a mixed iambic scheme (Hines, 45). However, the formal style of poem employed by Adrienne would change years later. Also, there is alliteration used in the fifth line – fingers/fluttering and prancing/proud in the last line. She also uses internal rhyme in the poem: prance/topaz, beneath/sleek, terrified/unafraid. She uses these internal rhymes as a means of binding the sounds during the progression of the poem. The couplets used in the poems serves the purpose of explicating to the reader the sense of the actions occurring. Like the tigers prancing, such lines assist in creating rhythm, while other broadcast the presence of an obstacle by stuttering and jarring.
The reader pictures the visual and symbolic scene that the tigers created by Aunt Jennifer represent. The topaz color represents majestic movements that express boldness, courage and fearlessness. The topaz color consists of green, a color related to rebirth and spring. The prances of the tiger (high steps), are sleek (lustrous and smooth) and also chivalric. Chivalry is an old term in the knight era representing courteous ways, especially when treating women by men. In this sense, the tigers are fearless and bold like men yet chivalric. The author uses the tiger to represent men, strong and fearless, but also expects them to be gentle with women, treating them with respect and courtesy. In this way, Aunt Jennifer seems to escape to a world where she wishes to have a man that is a high prancing tiger, a man that is fearless, bold but still treats her right and with respect.
In the second stanza, the author talks of Aunt Jennifer’s hands. She writes about the fluttering hands of Aunt Jennifer, a symbol of nervousness and weakness. Aunt Jennifer’s hands express her worry and her weak spirit. She goes further to show the level of weakness by stating she is unable to use the ivory needle during her embroidery. According to Rich, the ivory is a luxury material that Aunt Jennifer cannot handle, showing the extent of her oppression (87). She is too weak to enjoy the best things of life like the luxurious ivory needle. Also, on her hand she wears a ring, a wedding band, which weighs heavily on her finger. The wedding ring is a representation of the emotional baggage that comes from her marriage. The massive weight from the wedding band is a hyperbole that exaggerates the issues to make the situation vital. The poet underpins the idea of Aunt Jennifer’s unhappiness and entrapment. The embroidery is not easy even though it is her escape route thinking how hard she must work to move her heavy fingers during the knitting (Langdell, 105).
There is a different between the first two stanzas. The first stanza is full of certainty, easy and vibrant while the second stanza is heavy, uncertain and full of hard work. The macho power is present in the second stanza, while the first addresses the creativity and drive of the tigers of Aunt Jennifer.
The last stanza shifts in the time essence, changing from current to the impending and the possible. Still, the poet focuses on Aunt Jennifer’s hands, using a communication form that conveys death, terror, master, ring and ordeals. The creative hands as portrayed by the poet are now thought in a negative manner. The ordeal expresses the moment of time, how long Aunt Jennifer has been oppressed and how long she has endured it. The ring will still be worn at her death and will still be a symbol of oppression by her domineering husband. However, there is a hint of hope in all the madness within the poem. The tigers will still prance long after her death, a symbol of inner peace and assurance however friable she may seem.
The two poems, Margaret Atwood’s “You Fit into Me” and Adrienne Rich’s “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” are similar in a way. They both speak of the issues related with women oppression in marriage. Margaret’s speaks of the betrayal that occurs when the same person unequivocally hurts a woman he thought to be her perfect “fit”. “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” convey a similar message of oppression offers hope. It shows women that they can still find things to do for themselves that will keep them happy, strong and going despite the hardship of their marriages. It is vital for women to know and understand that similar situations can be softened. Adrienne Rich tells the women that an unhealthy relationship does not necessarily mean women should give up their passions and ambitions. It is through them that the oppressed women find solace, freedom and strength to soldier on. Also, it a message of hope to men, the prancing tigers, that good men who treat women with respect and courtesy are out there and that women should not stop believing in love. The two poems are a compliment, they advocate for each other. They both view love as a special thing. The prancing tiger and the perfect fit are symbols of good love and good men.
Hines, Molly E. Margaret Atwood’s the Handmaid’s Tale: Fundamentalist Religiosity and the Oppression of Women. San Angelo, Tex, 2006. Print.
Langdell, Cheri C. Adrienne Rich: The Moment of Change. Westport (Conn.: Praeger, 2004. Print.
Rich, Adrienne C. A Change of World: [poems] with a Foreword by W.h. Auden. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951. Internet resource.
Roberts, Edgar V, and Robert Zweig. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. , 2015. Print.