This Is a Photograph of Me by Margaret Atwood Poem Review

Margaret Atwood is a renowned feministic author who frequently writes about the struggles women are facing in today’s society. In the poem, “This is a Photograph of Me” Atwood reveals the mysterious identity of the speaker. Atwood uses nature in this poem to symbolize the power that the male gender have over women today.

Even though while reading the poem we feel as though we are looking at a photograph, when really we have a poem describing what the photograph would look like, consider Atwood’s poem “This is a Photograph of Me” as an example open form poem because she uses the photograph to symbolize the speaker’s feelings of how she sees herself on the outside.

Atwood uses irony through the title of the poem by leading us believe that she will reveal a photograph of the speaker. The irony of the title is that the photograph we are presented with in the poem is not just a single photograph of a person.

It is a photograph of many different purposes, since the images of the photograph could have a deeper meaning to each individual who reads it. Atwood’s use of words like “smeared”, “blurred” and “blended”(3-5), are words that could be used when describing the look of a photograph. Instead Atwood uses these particular words to describe her feelings towards how she views herself on the outside. She wanted her reader’s to understand how she was feeling, even though the use of these words may have not become clear to her meaning right away.

After reading this poem a few times, the meaning of theses words will make the reader feel as though Atwood’s character in this poem felt as though she feels a loss of her identity, confused and unfocused. At the same time the reader may also think that Atwood wanted her character to been seen as not recognizable, as though she is getting old by using words like she has to describe the look and feel of the photograph. Atwood does not use a structure that is easily noticed in this poem.

Although the first half of the poem does not have a particular rhyming scheme the sounds of the words chosen are similar making it sounds very romantic. Atwood breaks the poem into stanzas making it easier to determine where the tone and setting of the poem changes. The first half of the poem’s tone is very calm by using repetitive sounds and flat brief words. Atwood uses metaphors and similes to reveal details that she may have been trying to hide from her reader’s such as, “ A thing that is like a branch: part of a tree (balsam or spruce)…” (8-9).

By using a simile, Atwood is connecting nature to something making the reader have to look deeper to find out what the meaning truly is. The author uses a literary device called imagery by using parts within the photograph to have a stronger meaning by connecting it to a feeling. The tone of the poem changes when we find out that the picture is taken after the speaker has drowned. The meaning of the poem changes at the end when the last stanza states, “… if you look long enough eventually you will see me”(24-26). This gives the reader a clear picture that Atwood’s poem is about searching for identity.

Although this poem has many different themes the standard theme as in most of Atwood’s poems was the power she viewed that the men had over the women in today’s society. The symbolism of the distortion of the photograph is the bad characteristics that people have put on women. Atwood uses symbolism of, “… a gentle slope…”(11-12) to the battles the women have gone through when overcoming the biases. Another theme that is shown in this poem is that the speaker does not have many close people in her life. It gives the reader a sense that Atwood is very alone and isolated from others.

This is shown by the words that are chosen. In the first half when she talks about the unclear photograph it makes the reader feel like Atwood is very unsure of how she views herself, which is a feeling every person has felt in one time in their life. The poem is related to the theme of belonging when Atwood’s speaker seems to be attached to the house in the photograph. Lastly Margaret Atwood uses imagery throughout the poem, “This is a Photograph of Me”. Atwood starts the first half of the poem by describing a beautiful house in the background of the picture making the mood happy and even at times romantic.

When she changes the mood of the poem the reader was not expecting it and often may seem that there may be a hidden meaning in the story. Near the end of the poem, Atwood is trying to deliver the message that things are not always what they seem. It makes the reader realize that sometimes you need to dig further beneath the surface to find out the true meaning of things. Atwood uses imagery to help the reader get the hidden message. Near the end of the story after we find out that the speaker is dead, she still talks about the photograph as if it is still there, and she makes a promise to us that if hard enough we will see her.

The speaker is referring to her being beneath the surface, which in this case is under the water. As time goes on the speaker reveals that she has drowned and this is significant because the speaker has felt like she is not noticed throughout the poem. By giving the details of the photograph it makes the reader think that the photograph is old, same as how she feels like she is fading, even though she can be seen clearly. Atwood describes the quality of the photography to make us search around the edges as well.