Margaret Atwood

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How does Margaret Atwood make a large statement in "You Fit Into Me" (as a feminist poem) within the confines of a small poem?

Margaret Atwood makes a large statement within the confines of a small poem by using irony and contrasting imagery in "You Fit Into Me." The language of the poem itself is representative of the incommensurability between a fishhook and an eyeball, just as some relationships are incommensurate. However, the length of the poem (it is very short) is contrasted with how long it often takes couples to realize this fact. In the poem, the disparity is obvious. In life, sometimes it is not.

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Although the poem is certainly open to interpretation, what Atwood is doing is drawing contrasting images between what is expected and what is reality. This occurs both through the language of the poem itself as well as through the deeper message it conveys.

The poem starts off very wholesomely. “You fit into me, like a hook into an eye” implies the existence of a relationship, one that is as much of an exact, perfect match as is the eye of a lock, into which only one particular kind of key fits. However, in the very next lines, this imagery is reversed. The reader realizes that Atwood is not talking about a key, and the eye is not they eyehole of a lock. It is a fishhook in a human eye. The language at the end highlights how terrible of a combination this relationship actually has, and that it would be better if these two things never came together. This is true both of fishhook and eyeballs as well as a man and woman in an unfavorable relationship.

However, the size of the poem also conveys a sense of irony. Upon reading the second set of lines, the reader immediately recognizes the humor of the poem, as well as the incommensurability of the two objects in question (which represent a bad relationship). This recognition is almost instantaneous—of course nobody would want to have a fishhook in their eye! But, and this is Atwood’s deeper point, many bad relationships can last for months and even years before the two partners realize that there is a problem. As obvious and unhealthy as some relationships are, couples may remain blind to their own disfunction, and thus fail to appreciate their own incommensurability. Thus, the brevity with which the reader recognizes a problem in Atwood’s poem is contrasted with the incredibly long periods of time it takes men and women to recognize problems in their love life.

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