by Margaret Atwood
Siren Song Theme of Lies and Deceit
Sirens are masters of deception in the simplest ways possible: song and flattery. In "Siren Song," our speaker is so clever in the way she deceives us that we're never even aware that we're being duped—the entire time. We're too busy loving all of her talk about us being "unique" and special enough to save her. All the while we're hearing "about" the song and being lured to our deaths, we fail to realize that the very thing we want to learn about is the thing we've been hearing all along. So deception, in this case, is best exercised through the flattery of our egos in believing that we are in fact the greatest heroes of all. (Spoiler alert: we are not.)
Questions About Lies and Deceit
- What's so deceptive about the Siren's song in Atwood's poem? Why is it so easy for her to fool us?
- How does sexuality play a role in the manner in which our speaker seduces us? Is it overt or subtle? How do you know?
- What's ironic about the way the speaker deceives us? What does her deception tell us about our assumptions regarding predator and prey?
- What are some poetic devices that help make the Siren song all the more deceiving and seductive?
Chew on This
Deception in "Siren Song" isn't all about lies, but is rather something that is derived from our willingness to assume we are always the hero and/or predator. Wait—you mean we're not all that and a bag of chips?
The speaker's "cry for help" and flattery in the poem are the ultimate mechanisms for deception here. We're caught off-guard by our own egos and eagerness to play the hero. Hey, at least we tried though, right?