Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing

1488 Words Nov 21st, 2011 6 Pages
Teagan de Marigny
DSVTEA001
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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‘but I come from the province of gods’(58) ‘My mother was raped by a holy swan.’(62) ‘in my blazing swan-egg of light.’(80) Here are three instances where Atwood refers to the myth of who Helen’s parents were and how she was conceived.

Using Helen of Troy as the ‘prostitute/stripper’ in the poem creates great interest and entertainment due to the history of who Helen of Troy was. Helen is here being referred to as having no morals and self-respect. This introduces feminist resistance in the sense of irony that the ‘most beautiful woman in the world’ is a prostitute. This allusion provides us with the idea of the approach Atwood had for this poem. The poem begins with the idea that woman feel disgusted towards other woman who sell their bodies and degrade themselves by stripping and entertaining men. Women see this as giving woman in society a bad reputation and men who find pleasure in such a thing still sees this as a woman having no self respect. However this job is known as the world’s oldest profession for woman and who decides if this way of making money is really wrong? ‘...I should be ashamed of myself/if they had the chance. Quite dancing. /Get some self-respected job.’ (2-5) Helen then rebuts by stating that why would she leave this job when all she’ll be getting is ‘…minimum wage, and varicose veins…’ (6-7) she goes on to say, ‘Selling gloves, or something. Instead of what I do sell. You have to have talent to peddle a thing so nebulous’ (12-15) why

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