The Manipulative Sirens and Their Victims in Margaret Atwood's Siren Song

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The Manipulative Sirens and Their Victims in Margaret Atwood's Siren Song

In Homer's Odyssey, the Sirens are mythical creatures whose enchanting voices lure sailors to their deaths. These women have fascinated people ever since Homer sung the lines of his epic, inspiring artists of many genres from oil paintings to films. In her poem "Siren Song," Margaret Atwood re-envisions the Sirens to draw a comparison between the myths and modern life. Atwood portrays men as victims of "Sirens" (women) by making her readers the victims.

Atwood begins her poem with the speaker mysteriously introducing a secret. Speaking to her audience, the Siren--whose role is played in real life by women and paralleled by poets--attracts attention
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The men know they are being sucked into the women's trap. Readers know they are being pulled into a whirlpool of chaotic and capturing poetry--but the song is so "irresistible" (3) that neither tries to escape.

Atwood begins the third stanza with "the song" (7), again using lower case letters to lead readers towards the revelation. Her repetition of "the song" in the first three stanzas illuminates a theme of hypnotic phrases that runs its course through the poem. Ironically readers falls into the "irresistible" (3) trance by listening to the tales of its destructive nature: "anyone who has heard it / is dead..." (8). Atwood also alludes to the story of Odysseus with the phrase "others can't remember" (9), Odysseus being the only man who escaped the enchanting voices of the Sirens. The readers' curiosity mounts with the allusion to the man who had to be bound to keep him from "leap[ing] overboard" (5) to his death. They beg to know what kind of song this is and the power that is holds. The poet is the Siren to her clueless readers, placing them under her spell.

In the second three stanzas, the Siren begins to talk specifically about her life. Here Atwood begins to flesh out this character for her readers to fully draw them in. In the first three stanzas, the Siren discusses her role in light of the generalities expressed in the myths, but now she discloses what

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