February Month Of Despair By Margaret Atwood

Improved Essays
Sohaib Khan
English 230-B
Paper 1

“February” (1995) by Margaret Atwood is a poem about how awful the month of February makes the speaker feel. It’s just about a person whining about the season and life in general, maybe because of the affect of winter. The tone of the poem is summed up in: “February, month of despair” (25). The tone is cynical, with some attempted social commentary as well, but there it is almost a hopeful cynicism by the end when she says that we need “a little optimism around here” (33). The poem is about the overall state of mind the winter induces and how everything awful and annoying about life comes to the fore when in such a state. It is not possible to ascertain the gender of the speaker from the poem after an
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It is introduced as a “fur sausage” (3), a possible reference to that certain part of the male anatomy. The poet uses the cat probably because although the woman expresses her concerns about it, she probably owns it herself. Same with men, as the old cliché (for both men and women) goes - can’t live with them, can’t live without them. The cat has “Houdini eyes” (4), meaning that it can play tricks and get out of tight spots with ease. There is a certain dislike expressed for men throughout the poem as mentioned earlier, so the cat if it personifies men, is also selfish. It wants to know if the woman is alive because “he wants to be scratched” (7), otherwise “he’ll think of something else” (8), so he really doesn’t care beyond his own selfish reasons. His breath also smells of “burped up meat” (10), a mannerism associated to men. Another cat has declared war over territory and to the cat “its all about sex and territory”, another possible jab at men. The woman also wants some of the cats to be castrated. In the next line she relates the idea of castration to humans, saying that it is something they, seemingly “wise” if “sensible” should do. Then she extends this cat metaphor to make a social comment about over population, which wouldn’t be a problem if humans were to “snip a few testicles” (16) and “eat” their “young” (18). But humans can’t do that because of love. All these …show more content…
The month of February is just a horrible time for her. February is cold, “February is a month of despair; / with a skewered heart in the centre” (25-26) and she wishes it could be spring. Her heart had been broken by someone or something and then put back together with a skewer, incidentally a kitchen utensil. That simply shows her dislike for February and then goes on to show what affect it has on her thinking and attitude. When you don’t feel good you just think of all the bad things around you and when you start whining about something, all your derisions and spites surface. That’s what she does by going on a tirade of disgust. The main complaints against social unfairness come in the line with “He shoots, he scores!”(20) Since it’s in italics it’s meant to be the center of attention. It could refer to the expression used by men to express their sexual conquests. All men do this, no matter what the conditions. It even happens in places where there is a famine – “…and famine/crouches in the bedsheets” (20); it happens where and when it is extremely cold – “…the windchill factor hits/ thirty below” (22); it happens while we pollute our world and contribute to global warming – “…pollution pours out of chimneys to keep us warm” (24). This social commentary is probably not the focus of the poem, but it goes to show how one sees all the atrocities of the world when in a negative state of

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