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Using Margaret Atwood's poem "You Fit Into Me", what is the subject, and why is it so...

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alanajohnson | Salutatorian

Posted December 12, 2011 at 4:12 AM via web

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Using Margaret Atwood's poem "You Fit Into Me", what is the subject, and why is it so disturbing ?

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted December 12, 2011 at 4:49 AM (Answer #1)

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The subject of the Atwood poem is the nature of a relationship and its ambiguities. The first line seems to allude to a perfunctory sexual union ‘You fit into me’. The image is a biological one at this point. Due to the sparseness of this four line poem, it is possible to see this first line also as a spiritual reference, one person accepting that they connect with another.

The second line with the simile ‘like a hook into an eye’ implies an image of domesticity: the small metal fastening used to hold together a bra strap. Here we see the two partners as linking together, serving a purpose: united.

By the third line the subject becomes darker with the adjective ‘fish’ changing the connotation of the image completely. A fish hook is barbed and dangerous. It is designed to ensnare. We have moved from the world of women with the haberdashery image, to the world of men, with the hunter/gatherer image.

The last line, ‘an open eye’ is the most gruesome, direct and chilling. By the addition of ‘open’ the eye becomes part of a physical being. It is vulnerable: the window to the soul. The imagery of the fish hook fitting into the open eye is violent and arresting.

The image of gentle union and domesticity is thus turned by two words, ‘fish’ and ‘open’ into an image of the hunt, the violation and the pain of relationships. These words themselves do not connote anything sinister or barbarous, but in the context selected by Attwood they transform our perception of the relationship highlighted in the poem.

As a feminist, it is likely that Atwood wishes to see all angles of such a relationship.We are included in the exploration of the poem by the use of the personal pronoun 'you'. Atwood's intention is to involve us directly in the images she creates, which again makes the final two lines disturbing.

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