This
paper entitled, ‘The Transformation of
Myopiatic attitude in Margaret Atwood’s Poem “Bored”‘ by the renowned Canadian
poet, novelist and literary critic brings out the complex experience of boredom
through the poet’s life. In this poem she analyzes life and comes to a
conclusion changing her myopiatic or short-sighted view of boredom. Her
negative and insignificant narrow view of boredom which is reflected in the
beginning of the poem transforms into a positive sunnier outlook towards the
end. This poem was written in 1994 and published in the book, Morning in the Burned House. The speaker
feels that her companion has been the driving and controlling force in her
life. Her partner takes the lead in everyday activities. She feels physically
and emotionally dependent on the other person. She was not in control of the
directions of her life and started focussing on individual and insignificant
details around her. This has made her happier and now she feels enthusiastic
that she does not have to take major decisions or get herself involved in
physical hardworks just like her partner. She is no longer bored and has
started analyzing every situation in her life reaching a contended state of
mind. This paper concludes by bringing out the transformed mind set of Margret
Atwood.

 

            Keywords: boredom,
myopia, again and again, minutiae, sunnier, happier

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Malur

28-01-2018

Introduction

 

            The speaker in the poem is
contemplating the life that she has led up until this point and the way in
which her husband, or significant other, has been both the driving and
controlling force in her life. When the poem begins the speaker gives examples
of her partner taking the lead in everyday activities. Atwood gives examples
that are more abstract, as well as more physically recognizable. She includes
“holding the log / while he sawed it.” As well as sitting in the back of the
car, or boat, while he “drove, steered, paddled.” Atwood’s speaker continues on
to describe how, while she was not in control of the direction of her life, she
would focus on individual details, the “minutiae” of the situation. Such as the
sewing on the car seats, or the loam clay on the ground. She then goes on to
compare the actions they take while together, him pointing, her looking, and
taking turns whistling, as the actions of animals following one another. The poem
concludes with the speaker questioning why experiences look “sunnier” than they
actually were. How perhaps she was happier then, being bored, like “dogs or
groundhogs,” and how if she went back to those times she would no longer be
bored. She would want to know, and know everything.

 

 

Interpretation
& Discussion

 

            The
poem “Bored” by the famous Canadian Poet Margaret Atwood distinctly brings out the
poetess’ childhood emotions, when she would be bored with nothing important to
do. The poetess always had to go behind her father and linger in the shadow of
her father. This brings out the dependency nature, which she felt to be
slightly humiliating and making herself feel insignificant. The verse “bored
out of my mind” may imply that she is bored beyond words. It may also signify
that the feeling that she is bored shows that she is simply out of her mind.

            Interpreting
the poem with regards to its theme – She was bored holding the log while her
father sawed. Her job was confined to the weeding of the lettuces and beets for
which her father “pounded/stakes into the ground for rows and rows.” She would
have to be content staying at the backseat of the car. The poetess here feels
ignored from the point of view of the child, as the lament arose from not
giving her any ‘real’ work or entrusting her with responsibility. The poetess
now, loaded with responsibilities and obligations, feels how foolish she was at
that time to feel that way. She longs to transcend to that care-free
world yet again.

            The
act of sawing was much tougher, the pounding of stakes more tedious. Sitting at
the back of the car looked like ‘taking a backseat.’ Nevertheless, it also meant
sitting without tension or merely being a witness to the destination or like
when the speaker sat ‘still’ in the boat at ease,

“or sat still in boats,

                                  sat, sat, while at the prow, stern,
wheel

                  he drove, steered, paddled. ”

            At
that point of time it seemed as if he showed her the direction in the boat.
Nevertheless, now it feels as if she did not have to fret about finding the
direction. The poetess says that it was not even boredom. But looking hard up and
close at the slightest details, she terms it as “myopia.” It was rather her
“short-sightedness.” She could not envisage things from a broader point of
view.

The worn gunwales,

            the intricate twill of the seat

                                        cover.
The acid crumbs of loam, the granular

                                 pink rock, its
igneous veins, the sea-fans

                                          of
dry moss, the blackish and then the graying

                     bristles on the back of his neck.

            Sometimes
the poetess’ father would whistle, and sometimes she would. This alternate
whistling signified the rhythm of doing things again and again in a mechanical
routine. However, this mechanized routine was far from superfluous tensions.
They were limited to domestic chores like drying the wood, and doing the
dishes. Animals whiled their way in a similar manner-ferrying the sand, grain
by grain, from their tunnels, shuffling the leaves in their burrows. The
poetess seems to indicate that being irrational is better than being rational.
Though the climate was rainy(gloomy) and filled with bird-song (a symbol of
melancholy, the speaker looks back now as she comprehends that it was sunnier (” happier”).

   
             I
could hardly wait to get

              the hell out of there to

anywhere else

            Margaret
Atwood would currently like someone to open a door into the freedom of the
past. However, the poetess asserts that though boredom is happier, it is for
dogs or groundhogs. For one much not find boredom in the small things of life.
True happiness consists in finding joy in the little things of life, and making
it worthwhile as it lasts.

              Now I would know too much.

Now I would know.

 

Conclusion

 

            The
poetess now, loaded with responsibilities and obligations, feels how foolish she
was at that time to feel that way. She longs to transcend to that care-free
world again. The poem is a slight
conceit, because not only is she bored of the tasks, but she is also being
bored of her male companion. She does not like being with him, does not like
“the boring rhythm of doing/things over and over” (21-22). She leaves him,
because “I could hardly wait to get/the hell out of there to/anywhere else”
(33-35). However, now she wonders if “boredom is happier”(36). She misses him
and all that “minutiae” which annoyed her before has now become endearing as
she remembers it as “sunnier/all the time” (30-31) even though it seemed dreary
a little before.