Margaret Atwood Analysis

Start Your Free Trial

Download Margaret Atwood Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

In what ways do Margaret Atwood’s early childhood experiences in the Canadian wilderness affect her works?

Compare and contrast the dystopias in Atwood’s novels The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake.

In “Death by Landscape,” why does the protagonist have trouble letting go of her friend?

Alias Grace has been both praised and criticized for its attention to the details of Victorian life. How and why do such details affect the momentum of the novel?

Chronicle Elaine’s growth as an individual throughout her journey in Cat’s Eye.

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Margaret Atwood’s publishing history is a testimonial to her remarkable productivity and versatility as an author. She is the author of numerous books, including poetry, novels, children’s literature, and nonfiction. In Canada, she is most admired for her poetry; elsewhere, she is better known as a novelist, particularly for Surfacing (1972) and The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). Her other novels include The Edible Woman (1969), Lady Oracle (1976), Bodily Harm (1981), and Alias Grace (1996). Among her volumes of poetry are The Circle Game (1964), The Animals in That Country (1968), The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970), Interlunar (1984), and Morning in the Burned House (1995). In 1972 she published Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature, a controversial critical work on Canadian literature, and in 1982, Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, which is in the vanguard of feminist criticism in Canada. Atwood has also written for television and theater, one of her successful ventures being “The Festival of Missed Crass,” a short story made into a musical for Toronto’s Young People’s Theater. Atwood’s conscious scrutiny, undertaken largely in her nonfiction writing, turned from external political and cultural repression to the internalized effects of various kinds of repression on the individual psyche. The same theme is evident in her fiction; her novel Cat’s Eye (1988) explores the subordination of character Elaine Risley’s personality to that of her domineering “friend” Cordelia.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Margaret Atwood is a prolific and controversial writer of international prominence whose works have been translated into many languages. She has received several honorary doctorates and is the recipient of numerous honors, prizes, and awards, including the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry in 1967 for The Circle Game, the Governor-General’s Award for Fiction in 1986 and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction in 1987 for The Handmaid’s Tale, the Ida Nudel Humanitarian Award in 1986 from the Canadian Jewish Congress, the American Humanist of the Year Award in 1987, and the Trillium Award for Excellence in Ontario Writing for Wilderness Tips in 1992 and for her 1993 novel The Robber Bride in 1994. The French government honored her with the prestigious Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1994.

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

A skillful and prolific writer, Margaret Atwood has published many volumes of poetry. Collections such as Double Persephone (1961), The Animals in That Country (1968), The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970), Procedures for Underground (1970), Power Politics(1971), You Are Happy (1974), Two-Headed Poems (1978), True Stories (1981), Interlunar (1984), and Morning in the Burned House (1995) have enjoyed a wide and enthusiastic readership, especially in Canada. During the 1960’s, Atwood published in limited editions poems and broadsides illustrated by Charles Pachter: The Circle Game (1964), Kaleidoscopes Baroque: A Poem (1965), Speeches for Dr. Frankenstein (1966), Expeditions (1966), and What Was in the Garden (1969).

Atwood has also written books for children, including Up in the Tree (1978), which she also illustrated, and Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes (2004). Her volumes of short stories, a collection of short fiction and prose poems (Murder in the Dark, 1983), a volume of criticism (Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature, 1972), and a collection of literary essays (Second Words , 1982) further demonstrate Atwood’s...

(The entire section is 2,689 words.)