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Fall of Man Depicted in Atwood’s Backdrop Addresses Cowboy

Fall of Man Depicted in Atwood’s Backdrop Addresses Cowboy

The sexual politics of the man-woman relationship, or more specifically the sexual exploitation of women by men, is a clear concern in Margaret Atwood’s “Backdrop Addresses Cowboy.” Although the oppressor-as-male theme is by no means an original source of poetic inspiration, Atwood’s distinction is that she views the destructive man-woman relationship as a metaphor for, symptom and symbol of, bigger things. From the vantage-point of feminine consciousness, Margaret Atwood empahsizes the “backdrop” as being not only the woman, but also the land and the spiritual life of the universe; the “cowboy” is both a man bent on personal gain (possibly an American based on Atwood’s strong anti-American sentiments in her novel, Surfacing) and an emissary of technological progress.

The structure of the poem logically supports the theme of conflict and “imperialism” in that it is clearly divided into two sections or “camps.” The first four stanzas offer a description of “you”, the “righteous and heroic” cowboy who brutalizes life without creating new life. The perspective shifts then from predator to prey in the final five stanzas as “I”, presented as victimized woman and exploited nature, “addresses” her antagonist. The tone or mood of “Backdrop Addresses Cowboy” also undergoes a change after the first four stanzas when the reader enters the tragic, joyless experience of one who is paying the price of “slaughter and desecration.” At this point in the poem, it seems futile to consider whether or not the price should be paid and the metaphoric man-woman tension remains distrubingly unresolved. In terms of form, “Backdrop Addresses Cowboy” is written in open (org…

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…esecrate”, the emphatically placed word of the climactic line in “Backdrop Addresses Cowboy”, emphasizes again the “backdrop” as being not only the woman, but also the land and the spiritual life of the universe. As an emissary of technological progress, man has committed a sacreligious act against nature and humanity and his “fall” embodies the fall of the spiritual, the historical and the rational.

In Margaret Atwood’s poem, then, the troubled man-woman relationship is symptom and symbol of a greater alienation within humanity. Man’s past and present curelties to human, natural and spiritual life are expressesed metaphoricall in terms of a cowboy “winning the West” on a movie set, against a backdrop “supporting” his heroism. “Backdrop Addresses Cowboy” offers a vision that is both desolate and conscious-expanding but it does not present answers.

Analysis of Woman to Man by Judith Wright

Analysis of Woman to Man by Judith Wright

I was slightly confused when I read this poem at first, but it became apparent from the rich metaphors, that it was about the sexual relation between the woman and man. It is also about conception – or rather the potential of creating a child from this sexual act – told from the woman’s point of view.

Judith Wright was very bold in writing such a poem since it was published in 1949, when such issues weren’t discussed in the public, but as a well-regarded poet, she had achieved a good reputation for expressing herself, and therefore could write a subjective poem about this issue.

The main idea of this poem, is based upon female sexuality and sensuality, and that sex is symbolic of life, or death if pregnancy fails.

The title seems to mean now, “Woman to Man” as if the woman is offering herself to the Man, offering her body to create a child, through the act of sex. It also means that the woman has something to give to the man, not only the pleasure, but through blood and pain, a child.

The language compliments the mood of this poem, as it varies from a sad and melancholy cry, to a voice of hope, all in a constant confident feel, and by this, the poet’s reflections and contemplation?s are communicated successfully to us, making us feel in the same way she has felt.

The first stanza begins with a bold and confident entry describing in a simple way the sexual relation between the man and the woman; or better said; Woman to Man. The ‘seed’ which the woman holds – has the potential of becoming a child. The image of the day of birth as a ?resurrection day? is important in this respect for, just as the resurrection of Christ defeated death, so too, does each individual…

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final line – “Oh hold me, for I am afraid.” This line is wholly successful on a dramatic level; for here the real world of passion and pain breaks in. At the same time the poem as a whole has

suggested that in each sexual act there is the potential for the creation of new life which challenges time and death. The woman is the proud yet fearful instrument of this process.

The poem has a rhythmic pattern that compliments the metaphors and paradoxes. The stanzas begin and end, individually, for the first and last lines rhyme, which creates a feeling of ?wholleness? to each stanza, quite appropriate to the act of creating or bearing a child.

It is like a song, a pentameter that begins bold, but ends in a quiet tone, making its reader reflect, not only about the ending, but the entire poem as a serious issue, that fornication is, or can be, a holy act.

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