Marriage is not a Game as Seen in Margaret Atwood's Habitation

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Margaret Atwood is a Canadian novelist and poet whose writing usually treats contemporary issues, such as feminism, sexual politics, and the intrusive nature of mass society. While she is best known for her works as a novelist, her poetry is also noteworthy. One of her notable poems, “Habitation,” discusses the seriousness of marriage. The speaker basically gives a message that the marriage is not a game or a play; rather, it is a serious, unstable condition that calls for a lot of effort and attention to maintain harmony. In “Habitation,” Atwood uses simple, basic images such as the forest, desert, unpainted stairs, and fire to give a realistic view of marriage. In addition, these images give the poem optimism about unstable conditions of …show more content…
At the edge, he or she is free to leave, where in the middle they would be trapped; therefore, the “edge” in this poem symbolizes a hopeful outcome for the rest of marriage. Another image that Atwood uses to describe the reality of married life is “the unpainted stairs.” (6) “Unpainted stairs” represent a project that is not done yet. The project represents the development of a marriage because each unpainted stair stands for the hardship or unstable condition between newly married couple. As the newlyweds solve their problems and gain a better understanding of each other, the “unpainted stairs” can become “painted stairs.” In other words, the solution to the problem is found only after they’ve painted the stairs together. The marriage is like building a house. Atwood uses this basic image of “unpainted stairs” to show the harsh reality of marriage, while at the same time, she is also hopeful to see a possible happiness as the marriage gets matured and developed. Atwood introduces the last simple image, “fire,” in the last line: “We are learning to make fire.” (13) This fire image is a poetic technique, so the reader can interpret the meaning of “fire.” He or she can view the “fire” in two approaches. One is that while the “fire” is a destructive object, it also gives a new life after the destruction. The effort and attention to improve the relationship or solve the problem are difficult for a

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