Analysis of 'Rat Song', by Margaret Atwood

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Rat Song

”Rat Song” is a poem written by Margaret Atwood and is part of Selected Poems from 1976. What is interesting about the poem is that it is written from the point of view of a rat. And by looking through the eyes of a rat (which many people see as a primitive and inferior animal) the poem shows how judgemental, hateful, hypocritical and “unnatural” the human race is. The poem furthermore advocates that humans are a much greater parasite than the rats they are so desperately trying to get rid of.

How the rat is viewed by the human
The first theme this analysis would like to discuss is how the rat is viewed by the human in the poem. It is clear from the very beginning of the poem that the human described is not
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It makes it easier to describe the human race and its flaws, if you take the point of view of for example an animal. This is in literary terms called ‘prosopopoeia’, and it is precisely what Margaret Atwood uses in her poem “Rat Song”. In other words, Margaret Atwood ‘takes on’ the role as a rat to portray the human as an object rather than a subject. The objectification of humans are also illustrated in that the human in the poem is only described in general terms; we cannot tell whether there is talk of male or female human, therefore it seems to be about the human race as an entity (Haynes 2011, page 42). This is also a sort of dehumanization of the human race as the humans appear as cold and distant possessing no remorse or compassion.
Both the prosopopeia and the general description of humans in the poem draws the reader into the poem. The last part of the poem ends with: “It’s your throat I want, my mate / trapped in your throat. / Though you try to drown him / with your greasy person voice, / he is hiding / between your syllables / I can hear him singing.” (Atwood 1976, lines 24-29). This is meant to be a passage where the reader is supposed to make self-reflective thoughts, because it almost directly addresses the reader. The ‘you’s in the first half of the poem (referring to the human that wants to kill the rat) melts together with the ‘you’s in the last half of the poem. This makes it
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