Theory Questions to: "Siren Song" by Margaret Atwood
Feminism Theoretical Approach
Atwood's poem, "Siren Song", introduces a heavy feminist subtext involving the stereotypes that men have about women, stereotypes that are represented by the Greek myth of the sirens. Moreover, the speaker of the poem seems to be resisting patriarchal values. Women during this time were said to be weak, subservient, and helpless and at the same time, dangerous to men and wanting to trap them into a commitment. After reading the poem a couple times it seemed to me that the poem takes a familiar myth and turns it around posing it from the siren's (women's) point of view. It could be said that it is actually a man's compulsion to always be the "hero" and save the damsel in distress and this is what ultimately leads to their destruction. Moreover, the speaker is clearly frustrated that as a female, she must perform an age old patriarchal role.
1) What do the "sirens" in Atwood's poems symbolize?
2) After reading Atwood's poem, would you say that the poem is resisting patriarchal values, why or why not?
3) If this poem was written by a male, how would we as readers interpret the poem differently?
Atwood, Margaret. "Siren Song." The Norton Introduction to Poetry. J. Paul Hunter, Alison Booth, and Kelly J. Mays. 9th edition. New York: Norton, 2007.109.