The City Planners
Writer: Margaret Atwood-an established poet, novelist and literary critic and she writes about disutopia and a rugard society. She is an environment activist.
Summary: The poet addresses the perfection, robotic, bland and uniform structure of the city as she takes a cruise through it on a relaxing Sunday weekend, something she finds completely sickening. Throughout the poem, she addesses the sickening sense of conformity that she finds in the city as well as the 'evil' politicians of this world.
Form: As the poem continues, the size of each stanza decreases to illustrate the level of suppression that we seen in terms of self-expression due to the development which is occuring at a faster rate so the paragraphing deals with a time shift. Alternatively, she could be addressing the transition from the urban to rural area as housing is smaller and more packed together in urban areas which creates a sense of claustrophobia as we feel our area of movement is limited like the size of the paragraph as it limits the amount of content in it,
Tone: Negative towards urbanization, conformity and the sense of everyone being a robot that comes with it,
The City Planners
Language and Imagery:
- 'Cruising these residential streets in dry August sunlight' which creates a calming effect to use as a foundation to which the poem is based on so the poet can address the atmosphere more starkly and shockingly to create a bigger contrast. The use of the time in August and on a Sunday which is considered the holy day that Jesus rose from the dead and is the day you spend with family so creates a sense of happinness and slow relaxed feelings so fools the reader into a false sense of calm to make a starker contrast later,
- 'What offends us is the sanities:'- This is the turning point in the poem where the poem isnt as positive as felt before. She finds 'sanity' an issue as she finds is strange for everyone to be sane. It is the insanities that makes us sane.She is offended by the lack of individulism. The ':' foreshadows the fact that she is goign to list aspects that she finds insane about the city,
- 'The houses in pedantic rows'-Personification of 'pedantic' which suggests that the rows are picky and concerned with little details so everything has to be perfect with no imperfections.It creates a sense of boredom at the lack of individualism as everything is robotic the poet hates this conformity and consistency,
- 'the planted sanitary trees'-This demonstrates the development's hold over nature which is being oppressed to gorw in a peculiar way in a peculiar location just for decoration. This is a sense of mockery against nature as it tends to be free and uncontrolled but opposite here,
The City Planners
- 'Assert levelness of surface like rebuke to the dent in our car door'-this addresses the fact that everything is perfect that being normal is considered wrong ad everything is so straight that having a dent in the car is considered wrong and the perfectness is an insult to the imperfection. There is the sense that as everything is flawless, they dont really own it and have no power over it so indicates a sense of suppression,
- 'Nothing more abrupt than the rational whine of a power mower cutting a straight swathe in the discourage grass'- The word 'rational' is a tool used by the poet to imply a sense of control over things that we shouldnt have control over, like nature. She is implying that urbanisation has put control over the sound as well as to make it completely logical and precise. The way the grass is desribed as 'discouraged' is personifcation and urbanisation has a leash on nature and controls them,
- 'But through the driveways neatly sidestep hysteria by being even, the roofs all display the same slant of avoidance to the hot sky'-She points out the slight perfections of the place that are so minute that she finds them irritating, like the mathmatically calculated angle of the roof. The word 'hysteria' is excessive and shows there is no emotional control over how she feels,
- 'smell of spilt oil a faint sickness'-metaphor which shows that the imperfections make others feel sick compared to the perfection as it is so noticeable which is how the writer feels except the opposite. She feels the perfections makes her sick compared to the perfections,
The City Planner
- 'A plastic hose poised in a vicious coil; even the too-foxed stare of the wide windows.' There is plosive alliteration in 'plastic hose poised' which emphasizes the dangerous image of a snake poised to attack which suggets she feels that at anytime the city will break as we cross the threshold from sane to insane. The 'wide windows' is alliteration and personification used to create the sense of insanity as insane people often have a very fixed stare at nothing like the house which makes it seem scary and dangerous,
- 'Give momentary access to the landscape behind or under the future cracks in the plaster'-There is enjambment into the next stanza to show that she undermines the uniformity and she prefers to let the poem naturally flow from one to another. There is a metahpor here-nature will come back and strike and destroy the area and is saying you cant control nature.
- 'when the houses, capsized, will slide obliquely into the clay seas, gradual as glaciers that right now nobody notices'-Simile to emphasize the human's effect on the world and how we are causing global warming. The tone here suggests she doesnt care for the loss of humanity if nature can thrive again,
- 'the City Planners with the insane faces of political conspirators are scattered over unsurveyed territories'-The word 'insane' is used to desribe the Planners that exaggerates their current mood as they try hard to alter the course of nature. The phrase 'political conspirators' puts them in a bad light as if they are manipulating the urban area for their own gain rather than of benefit of others as it is cheaper to produce unexpressionate housemoney,
The City Planners
- 'concealed from each other each in his own blizzard.'-this emphasizes that they have no sense of scale as they work individually for profit. It shows they only care for themselves.The 'blizzard' represents the madness of trying to reach ultimate perfection and conformity.
- 'Guessing directions, they sketch transitory lines rigid as wooden borders on a wall on the white vanishing air.'-This verse has one punctuation in it which represents that time is running out and purity is vanishing. 'rigid as wooden borders' is a simile which emphasiezes the oxymoron which is how she feels like her imperfections are on the opposite end of the scale to the perfection of the city,
- 'Tracing the panic of subruch order in a bland madness of snows'-She is saying the order is threatened but that is the threat as madness is order which Atwood doesnt understand. there is a juxtaposition in 'order' and 'panic' to emphasize this as well as the oxymoron of 'bland' and 'madness;.
Links: 'The Planners' due to the reoccuring problem of the urbanisation being bad for society being expressed over and over again but 'The Planners' didn't necessarily state the development and urbanisation,