Dawn of discovery : Margaret Atwood's Morning in the burned house
Pylvainen, Tina Tammy
Master of Arts
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Morning in the Burned House, Margaret Atwood's new collection of lyric poetry, is a carefully structured exploration of the spiritual dimension of selfhood. The volume is divided into five sections which each serve as "stages" of awareness, and the poetry is ordered in such a way that the sections themselves and the volume as a whole both convey a sense of progressive development. This thesis examines the interdependent structure of Atwood's volume, tracing the gradual increase in perception which ultimately leads to a conscious recognition of spirituality. Chapter one, "Now there are more of me," is an exploration of the first two sections of the collection. These poems initially focus on the individual self, and present a series of recollected losses. The loss of an individual spiritual self, however, moves the poems to a questioning of morals, thereby transferring the focus away from self to the other. My analysis involves the perceived relationship between self and other, and also the function of these opening sections as a structural foundation in the volume. Chapter two, "Now look objectively," examines the transitional nature of the third section. I evaluate physical existence as the focal point through which these poems first explore the social and mortal aspects of self through the other, thereby leading to a consideration of the possibility of a spiritual existence.