Sample English Essay Paper on Margaret Atwood: Novels and Stories

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 at a place called Ontario, Canada. Atwood later relocated to Sault Ste. Marie before settling in Toronto, Canada, in 1945. She lived with her father in the Ontario, wilderness, where he worked as an entomologist. One of the things that Margaret Atwood enjoyed in while staying in the wilderness where she had no access to school life was writing. It is surprising that at the young age of six, Atwood ventured fully into writing where she composed plays, poems, comic books, morality plays, and novels. Preadolescence and school gave her a different taste of home economics where her writing decreased a little bit. However, while in high school, her writing resurfaced and she began writing poems (Nischik 4). Notably, her favorite writer while she was a teenager was Edgar Allan who was known for his dark mystery stories. While she was young, her parents encouraged her to study, gain knowledge, and use her education. After her decision to become a writer, Margaret Atwood got precedent for becoming a female Canadian poet and novelist.

Margaret Atwood uses a witty and vivid style throughout her writing. Most of her stories are always unsparing on unfairness and pain. Most of her writings are also based on two different sides where at one point they pull towards art while at other times they pull towards life. Margaret Atwood is very nationalistic because she is persistently aware of the opposites such as male and female. In her novels, she separates the characters from each other as well as the actors from the natural world. Thus, she makes the characters’ communication and ability to socialize or understand the place they live difficult. She represents people who are striving for personal integrity and symphonic affiliation with the natural world. Margaret Atwood is known for her support to different fields such as environment, feminism, and social justice (Nischik 12).

In one of Margaret Atwood’s books, The Surfacing, the title itself suggests that the story is about the narrator’s emotional journey. The narrator becomes unconscious by diving into her memories, delusions, and grief. The writer surfaces back to reality after putting together the memories of her past. Apparently, the narrator’s dive to the bottom of the lake symbolizes she must strive to work emotionally to face the truth about her parents’ lives, death, and the abortion she took. Water symbolizes the past of the narrator in which her past is buried into and from which she must visit to obtain healing from her past. One of the themes presented in the novel is power. The narrator’s childhood and current memories are filled with marriage, pregnancy, and childbearing, which are all filled with victimization and powerlessness. She was bullied when she was a child alongside being pressurized by the husband to commit abortion. As a woman, she felt less powerful in a community that strived to empower the ladies. However, at the end of the story, the narrator admits that she is powerful since she can give and take life as well as build or break a relationship. In addition to power, Atwood’s “The Surfacing” presents the themes of family or marriage. Family and marriage are two important components in an individual’s life, and they come with commitment. For a man, transition into a family situation comes with responsibilities such as serving as the breadwinner whereas a woman is tasked with taking care of the household chores as well as the well-being of children. In Atwood’s ” The Surfacing,” family and marital relationships are among the most important themes. However, Atwood’s depiction of family and marital relationships is contrary to societal expectations. The story is primarily about ugly, troubled, and failed marriages. For instance, the family relationship between the narrator and her brother tend to have a sinister undertone. Throughout the story, the relationships between children and their parents are not in any way better. In fact, Atwood argues that it is acceptable for a person to disown his or her parents when he or she reaches adulthood. Atwood, for instance, claims that she disowned her child as an infant, which highlights her arguments about family and marital relationships. Primarily, throughout the story, people are isolated and are unable to form or develop social bonds that often exist among family members (Nischik 191).

Symbolism is widely used in Atwood’s “ The Surfacing.” In literature contexts, symbolism refers to the use of symbols or symbolic images to represent various qualities or ideas. For instance, in “The Surfacing,” animals are widely used as symbols. The author tries to bring out the idea that being like an animal is a supremely good thing but only in the novel’s universe. In fact, the author tends to appreciate and praise the fact that her boyfriend is more of an animal given the furriness and vestigial qualities. The author states that “I remember the hair on Joe’s back, vestigial, like appendices and little toes: soon we’ll evolve into total baldness…” In the “The Surfacing” novel, the author uses animals to symbolize or highlight violence or evil. At one moment when the narrator comes across a murdered heron, she becomes emotional and for a long time remains preoccupied with the evil act of killing a bird. The narrator’s love and preference for animals come from her dad who preferred animals to people arguing that people are merely irrational animals. In contrary to real life where being an animal is viewed from the perspective or irrationality or lacking the capacity to reason, “The Surfacing” tends to disconnect being animalistic from humanity. Moreover, given the title “The Surfacing,” any reader of the story would expect pretty good water imagery and symbolism. In this regard, the author does not disappoint since the surfacing notion often references water in real life, and it is central to the story. The story is primarily about the author’s life as she sets on a journey of self-discovery that involves getting to a point in life where the truth of her past bubbles up to the surface. In essence, water metaphors or symbolism tends to be an integral part of Surfacing in how the message is conveyed to readers.

Another theme that is found in the stories of Margaret Atwood is that of civilization versus wilderness where she pits societies from savagery (Nischik 203). Atwood strongly believes that the theme of civilization versus wilderness are perfect principles to define the lives of Canadians. The mentioned oppositions further provide a metaphor that causes frequent divisions among families and personalities of humans. Civilization, culture, and society are a representation of human rationality while forests depict irrational that is commonplace among humans. In most of her novels, Margaret Atwood uses photographs to reconnoiter the identity of the facades women who try to adapt to society. Apparently, instead of the photographs revealing an identity, they obscure the mysterious identity of the speaker.

The story The Handmaid’s Tale is about religious fundamentalists who had overthrown the United States government and established themselves in a city near Boston. According to the story, the government assigned people groups where a certain group was to wear clothes made of a specific color. However, due to environmental pollution, there was low fertility rate. Therefore, fertile women were required to sire children for the rich who could not conceive. The mode of reproducing children was likened to the story of the Old Testament where a hands maid was allowed to conceive with the woman’s husband. One of the themes used in the story is the theme of identity where the interactions of the inhabitants were strictly controlled and monitored. Every character in the story had a class to which they belonged. Apparently, an individual’s color and class were more important than his/her name. Grouping of individuals according to color was based on the difference between two colors where blue signified purity and red represented sexuality. One of the symbols used in the story is a flower, which represented fertility and reproduction. In addition to fertility and reproduction, flowers also represented beauty.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood is a story that talks about a husband and a wife who strived to end crime and unemployment, but in reality, they harvested organs illegally and sexually altered the minds of human beings. One of the themes used in the novel is that of dystopianism where companies, associations, or even governments exercise power by influencing the daily lives of human beings by denying them their legal rights. Apparently, those in powerful positions will do anything to retain their positions and will perform whatever it takes to please their desires. In the story, the Positron project was aimed at extending its control and powers in different countries. The narrator of the story has used a limited-omniscient style of writing in which a reader can only view the events of the story the way the narrator desires. The writer has also used literary styles such as suspense, mystery, and drama to uncover the true nature of the Positron Project.

To sum up, Margaret Atwood was born in 1939, and she lived with her father in the Ontario wilderness where she spent most of her time writing plays comic books, morality plays, poems, and novels. Preadolescence and school gave her a different taste of home economics where her writing decreased a little bit but later on increased while she was in high school. Notably, her writing resurfaced, and she ventured into poetry. While she was a teenager, she received inspiration from Edgar Allan who was popular because of his dark mystery stories. While she was young, her parents encouraged her to study, gain knowledge, and use her education. Margaret Atwood has written many stories and poems such as The hands Maids Tales and the Surfacing. Her short stories are snippets of thoughts that express intelligence, vinegar, and humor that make her novel unique from others written by different authors. In essence, her stories are made of combinations of events that happen in the real world and those that take place in fiction and the world of fantasy.

Work Cited

Nischik, Reingard M. Engendering Genre: The Works of Margaret Atwood. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2009.