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Unformatted text preview: Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario, in 1939. Her father was an entomologist and about 6-7 months of each year he did insect research in the forest, so she spent part of her childhood living in the Canadian bush, the sparsely populated areas of northern Quebec. These trips provided her with vast knowledge of the natural world. She moved, at the age of seven, to Toronto. Atwood began writing at the age of six and wrote poems, morality, plays, and comic books and at age 16 knew that writing would become her profession. She studied at the University of Toronto, and then took her masters degree at Radcliffe College, Massachusetts, in 1962. She continued her studies of Victorian literature at Harvard. Atwood writes in an exact, vivid, and witty, style in both prose and poetry. Her writing is often unsparing in its gaze at pain and unfairness. Sherrill Grace, writing in Violent Duality: A Study of Margaret Atwood, identified the central tension in all of Atwood’s work as “the pull towards art on one hand and towards life on the other.” Atwood “is constantly aware of opposites—self/other, subject/ object, male/female, nature/man—and of the need to accept and work within them,” Grace explained. She is very nationalistic. Margaret Atwood voices strong feminist themes through her writing. This separation leads her characters to be isolated from one another and from the natural world, resulting in their inability to communicate, to break free of exploitative social relationships, or to understand their place in the natural order. She presents individuals questing for personal integrity and for a more harmonious relationship with the natural world. Atwood is known for her strong support of causes: feminism, environmentalism, social justice. The Journals of Susana Moodie The book derives its shape and cohesiveness, of course, from the persona of Moodie herself as Atwood traces the change — the growth and development — in Moodie’s response to the land. She moves from her initial alienation to her attitude at the end where, as Atwood explains in the Afterword, “Susanne Moodie has finally turned herself inside out, and has become the spirit of the land she once hated.” 1 The poems are tied together not only by the persona, but also by a number of key images: trees, fire, light and darkness. The use of this imagery begins, in fact, with the collage that precedes the first journal. A collage is of its very nature artificial: it involves sticking, imposing, one figure on another. The opening collage reveals this to be Mrs. Moodie’s state in the new land — she is artificially stuck into the wilderness, and lacks any true connection with the land. Her initial commitment is to all those things associated with light: civilization, reason, order. Only as she comes to accept the darker side of herself, and of nature, will she be able to change and grow. In The Journals of Susanne Moodie , as in much of Atwood’s poetry (“Journey Into The Interior” is the clearest example), the exploration of a new land is also a psychological exploration of the self. Looking in a Mirror...
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This note was uploaded on 03/21/2011 for the course ENGLISH 101 taught by Professor Gonzalez during the Spring '11 term at New England College.
- Spring '11
- The Odyssey