by Margaret Atwood
Siren Song Theme of Women and Femininity
Sirens are always women in Greek mythology, so you know there will be some ideas floating around in "Siren Song" regarding women and the femininity they're meant to represent. Sirens are also supposed to be seductive and sexy, so our speaker may be offering some questions about the sexual roles women so often play in literature. These roles, according to our speaker, often appear "picturesque and mythical," which may come across as flat and predictable, rather than something we might encounter in that thing we like to call… oh yeah, real life. It kind of makes sense, then, that the speaker would feel "bored" with that same old song.
Questions About Women and Femininity
- How is femininity portrayed in Atwood's poem? Is it a flattering look at feminine sexuality or not so much? What parts of the poem support your answer?
- Do you think the speaker feels isolated in her own femininity? Is there anything limiting about the kind of sexuality she's meant to embody? Why or why not?
- Is there any symbolic connection between "the song" and ideas of women and femininity in "Siren Song"? Why do you think so?
- Why might femininity and sexuality be seen as something "boring" in Atwood's poem? Is there any connection with the speaker's "boring" song? Why do you think so?
Chew on This
The "song" in Atwood's poem is really a symbol for the two-dimensional characteristics that are often used to represent women and femininity in literature. Where's the humanity?
The Siren's not actually bored with her portrayal in literature. It's all part of her elaborate ruse to get us to feel sorry for her. In other words, it's a trap.