Spelling by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood is a Canadian poet born in 1939. Spelling is a poem that depicts the hardships of women in general and motherhood in particular. The poem carries some autobiographical elements as the author states her daughter was learning how to spell, spelling, and how make spells. The speaker denotes childhood where one learns the basics of life.
In the next stanza, the poet wonders how many women confined themselves under the identity of motherhood. She narrates the pain of working women’s motherhood where they are forced to close the doors or create curtains between themselves and their offspring.
Women are often sidelined by their household activities. Her identity as a mother covers her identity as a woman. Her priorities are often decided by family or society. This poem narrates the theme of identity struggle. She is often left between the choice of profession and motherhood.
In the third stanza, the poet speaks of the holocaust to indicate the atrocities faced by women in history. In ancient times they were led even to death by social constraints. She mocks the traditions and rituals which considered women witches and killed them. The poet confirms they will shout louder even from the ashes.
In the last stanza, the poet asks her daughter how she is going to learn words like blood, sky, and the sun. Blood denotes the teenage of her daughter while the sky and sun stand for freedom.
She directs her daughter not to focus on these words but focus on her first name. The first name here signifies her self-identity and her identity as a woman. She emphasizes her daughter to forsake all other identities which can confine her freedom.
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