So today we had our first A Level English Literature lessons.. three whole interesting periods! These included a presentation to the course, where we learnt what it will involve etc, and we were then introduced to the poems/novel we will be studying during this course!
During these lessons today I have taken down notes in which I found useful, so I would like to share these notes in my blog in hope that they are also any use or help to you!
The first discussion we had was about the style of a writer. I learnt that what we read in any piece of literature doesn’t necessarily tell us about the “subject” it is covering, but more about the writer’s own personal attitude towards the subject. For example, in the poem “Futility”, it informs us how the writer, Wilfred Owen, was affected from war by displaying his questioning to religion against evolution. Owen tells us this about himself by the style and language he uses throughout the poem such as, “the kind old sun will know” and “the clay grew tall”.
With this idea in mind, we then looked at some of Margaret Atwood‘s poems ‘A Woman’s Issue’, ‘Christmas Carols’ and ‘Spelling’. Each of which all seem to have some connection with war.
When reading these poems, they each suggested to me that Atwood was a strong feminist, as she often writes on the idea of women treated badly, leaving little to the imagination with the use of graphic adjectives and verbs, (e.g in ‘A Woman’s Issue’, “scrape the flesh”, “cut her open then sew her up”) which show me how strongly she feels about this matter. She also uses ambiguous language in this poem, especially in the final stanza which could suggest either the topic of war or rape to women.
We also discussed today about the use of the title in a poem and that they are just as important as a some what “floating line” in the poem, in this case, Atwood’s titles also tell us about her style of writing as they all seem to be vague and misleading, for example ‘Christmas Carols’ project the idea of joy and festivity, this is used as a contrast to the rest of the poem as we learn Atwood is ‘harshly’ portraying pregnancy as if it was a type of ‘punishment’ or a reminder of rape. This idea of Atwood’s ‘harsh’ attitude is also displayed in ‘A Woman’s Issue’ as she uses the scientific language like “Exhibit A,B,C” rather than naming the women to suggest them as being treated as an object and ‘disposable’ . The title ‘A Woman’s Issue’ also seems vague to me from the use of a homophone as the word “Issue” could either suggest from the woman’s menstrual body issues, to women’s political issues.