In A Women’s Issue, Orpheus (1 and Orpheus (2), Margaret Atwood exposes what love can be and what it can do. Ultimately, Atwood presents love as an evil disguise which brings about misery and not happiness. In A Women’s Issue, Atwood shows different scenarios of women in unfavorable circumstances. First there is, “The woman In the spiked device/ that locks around the waist and between/ the legs, with holes In It Like a tea strainer” (Atwood 1-3). This chastity device was probably created to protect the woman’s flagrantly out of love.
However, the love of the woman, or possibly the love of virtuous women resulted in he creation of a device that must be insufferable (and unhealthy) to wear. Second there is a woman with, “… A four-inch/ wooden peg jammed up/ between her legs so she can’t be raped” (6-8). In this instance, Atwood presents a barbaric and ironic world. The poem makes it seem as though the woman will get raped the moment she takes out the wooden peg which is very savage. It Is also Ironic that the woman who does not want to be raped has a peg placed Inside herself.
Affection is absent, and as the examples continue in the poem, this idea progresses. Exhibit C he young girl dragged into the bush by midwives and made to sing while they scrape the flesh from between her legs, then tie her thighs till she scabs over and Is call healed. Now she can be married… Men like tight women (10-18) In the previous case, a young girl is forced to have her privates changed so that she is pleasing to the opposite sex because they believe men love tight women.
The midwives probably think they are showing love to the young girl because they are making her more desirable and fit for marriage, however, this love results In pain and f the poem Atwood poses an interesting question; “Who invented the word love? ” (39). With this last statement, Atwood challenges the view that love is affection for a person and expressed through passion. She describes the place between a woman’s leg as, “Enemy territory, no man’s/ land, to be entered furtively/ fenced, owned but never surely’ (30-32), and men only have “… Uneasy power” (37).
In this poem, passion does not really exist and love is a guise under which humans can be inhumane. In Orpheus 1, love acts as a cover for egotistical need. The poem is told form the respective of Eurydice, Orpheus’ wife who was bitten by a viper and died shortly after they were married. Orpheus travels to the underworld, and using his irresistible singing voice, renders Hades powerless. He then leads his wife out of the underworld, but not before he is given the simple condition to not look back at Eurydice until they are out of the underworld.
Orpheus is very controlling and never considers what Eurydice may have chosen to do. The poems begins, muff walk in front of me,] pulling me back out/ to the green light that had once/ grown fangs and killed me” (1-4). The word pulling implies that Eurydice does not want to go back to the world of the living. Eurydice is also fearful of the world because of the viper that killed her, yet Orpheus is only thinking about his self-satisfaction which he calls love. The poem continues, “l was obedient, but/… He return/ to time was not my choice” (5-8). Unfortunately, Orpheus is blinded by his ego disguised as love and does not consider whether or not Eurydice want to go with him. Furthermore, it is stated, Mimi had your old leash/ with you, love you might call it” (14-15). Clearly, love is to affection, but a means of control. This overbearing control masked as love resulted in unhappiness. Orpheus looked backed too soon, before Eurydice was out of the cave and thus she, “… Had to/ fold like a gray moth and let go’ (36-37).
Orpheus 2 further shows the negative effects that Orpheus’ ego-love had. After losing love, which is power to Orpheus, he tries to bring it back, but to no avail. “He has been trying to sing/ love into existence again/ and he has failed” (13-15). He goes on singing, “among the gray stones/ of the shore where nobody goes/ through fear. Those with silence” (10-12), however, the others so not want him to continue to sing. “They have cut off both his hands’… They will tear/ his head from his body in one burst/ of furious refusal. He foresees this, Yet he will go on” (23-27). Ultimately, Orpheus suffers because of his misinterpretation of love. He no longer has the love of Eurydice. He cannot please with his singing any longer. He fails to bring true love and affection back into existence. Ultimately, he suffers a cruel death. In these poems by Margaret Atwood, romantic and affectionate love does not exist. Love is absent and unkind when present. It hurts and takes and leaves pain in its wake.
It is like a trench coat, concealing a deadly weapon. Instead of the warm feelings of adoration and passion, Atwood presents what love really is most of the time – a cover for an unlikable trait – an excuse for unthinkable actions. Simply, love is a deliverer of pain. Who really did invent the word love? Perhaps he was a guilty deceiver, outwitting the world to his own advantage; hiding treachery behind a brilliant smile. Cared about. The word must have been untainted then, still innocent; not yet evil.
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