Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing

1466 words 6 pages
Teagan de Marigny
Due Date: 16 September 2011
English Literary Studies: ELL1016S
Tutor: Nicola Lazenby
Tut group 13
Assignment 2: Poetry
‘Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing’ – Margaret Atwood

‘Helen of Troy does Countertop Dancing’, by Margaret Atwood, deals with the refusal to agree to or obey with the idea that woman need to live a self-respected life and have a humble day job, which is pressured by society in order for woman to be ‘Ideal’. As well as Atwood’s writing on the oppressed female and her finding of power and control in everyday life. In this poem, there is an account of Feminist Resistance. Through observing the context, contents and form of the poem evidence of this resistance will be made clear.

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‘Helen’ uses her work as a battle against oppression which comes from an explicit attitude from society as well as from the need to gain control on a daily basis in life, therefore, ‘Helen’ works as a stripper in order to gain her own control in life. She also has the power to decide who she will dance for or sleep with. ‘You can take me out to dinner’ (62) is said as a command more than an offer.

‘Helen’ also is able to have men worship and love her: ‘my beery worshippers! That, or a bleary hopeless love.’ (33-34) .This idea of worshipping is again tied back to Helen of Troy who was worshipped however, under these circumstances they do not worship her how Helen of Troy was worshipped but rather as a person of beauty who is entertaining them for sexual arousal. Although they worship her they still undermine her as a woman. They see her and treat her as an object rather than a person, as some men do towards woman. ‘The rest of them would like to watch me and feel nothing. Reduce me to components’ (68-69) Even though in this poem we know that ‘Helen’ is a stripper there is an implication that Atwood may be referring to woman in general. Often men treat woman as objects rather than people therefore this idea is an example of Feminist resistance. The idea that all women should be beautiful and appear to walk on


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