Variations on the Word Love by Margarett Atwood - Critical Analysis

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"Variations on the Word Love" by Margaret Atwood

The poem "Variations on the Word Love" by Margaret Atwood describes the wide range of different types of love. Each is uniquely different as described by the poet. The poet is saying that love shouldn’t be just a “word we use to plug up holes with."

Atwood divides her poem into two concrete sections, which in turn represent two different ways of looking at the word love. The first stanza is dedicated to expressing love as a word and the second focuses on love as a feeling. There is a drastic change in Atwood’s tone between the two stanzas; in the first stanza, her attitude about love is expressed quite bitterly. This sourness is evident in her description of love as “a word we use to plug holes with.” This description makes the word “love” seem insignificant, expressing how casual the word has become. Within the same stanza, she expresses the idea that love has become too commercialized, such as with heart-shaped Valentine’s Day cards that “look nothing like real hearts.” In these lines, Atwood expresses that love has lost all of its meaning because it has been misrepresented and exploited.

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Although Atwood’s attitude towards love appears bitter in the first stanza, this completely changes at the start of the second stanza when she says, “Then there’s the two of us. This word is far too short for us, it has only four letters.” When reading this line, the reader clearly understands that Atwood’s bitterness is not towards love, but the misinterpretation of it by the people. Atwood describes love as a “single vowel in this metallic silence.” She feels very strongly that the word “love” is “not enough but it will have to do” and concludes the poem by leaving ...

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