English: City Planners
Comment closely on the poem, ‘city planners’ paying particular attention to the treatment of appearance.
Atwood suggests a world of control, suffocation and imprisonment. “The houses in pedantic rows” portrays an obsession with accuracy and over concern for detail, implying that this city is over controlled. “Sanitary trees” greets the reader with a feeling of desolation and loneliness. Nature should be left to take its course and therefore when trees are too tidy we see something false. Nature should be left untamed, imperfections are to be expected, but people want control. This no longer is a tree, it is a symbol of what humans have become. We see a display of classicism here as Atwood portrays the idyllic city. Atwood however, is more of a romanticist and sees the world in its imperfection.
Appearance is a critical theme in this poem, what we see on the surface is perfect, yet, those who have created this fascinating flawless world are far from achieving their goal to become perfect themselves. “Neatly sidestep hysteria”, insinuates that this world has driven out of control, and as soon as people think they have gained power over nature they will panic. Suffocation will make them panic, as they realize that they have achieved nothing but madness. “ Too fixed stare” suggests that insanity is what is taking over, and though the city is flawless to the eye, in our hearts we know that people are becoming vicious themselves.
This writer implies the God Pan, the God of nature, who has been restrained from encouraging his acts. Here humans are proving to be heartless, and destroy any sign of happiness. The future of this world is doomed as there are “cracks in the plaster”. Behind the scenes, this world is falling apart. “Nobody notices”, implies that we have become oblivious of our real surroundings, and this city is tumbling whilst we try and gain more control.
Obsession is growing on people, we face the worlds end because...