Poem, Painting Analysis

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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In the human experience, it is so easy to fall for simple tricks that seem like acts of kindness.

One way to prove this is through the mythological creature, the siren. The sirens sing a beautiful song, which seems like an act of kindness, but they sing it with malevolent intent. The song traps sailors on an island where they ultimately die.

In the painting “Ulysses and the Sirens,” John William Waterhouse uses the scene of Sirens trying to mesmerize Odysseus’ crew to show that it is easy for humans to get distracted by their problems and become easily overwhelmed.

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Meanwhile, in “Siren Song,” Margaret Atwood uses the same scene to show that humans often get deceived by people who seem kind but actually hope for the worst.

Poetry Analysis

The poem by Atwood takes place in the thoughts of a siren. Whoever hears the siren’s song dies, but the speaker is tired of singing it. She claims that the song is a call for help, but this could easily be another trap.

In the poem, the speaker states, “This song is a cry for help: ‘Help me!'” (Atwood 22).

In conclusion, the speaker is saying she is trapped and has no escape. We will never know whether this is just another trap or if she is being honest.

Research about the poet.

A. Atwood was born in Ontario, Canada, on November 18, 1939. She started writing at the age of 5. Since then, she has written 27 poems. Not only has she achieved this, but she also earned a master’s degree in English Literature from Radcliffe College in 1962. Her poems essentially all share the same theme, which is human behavior. Of all her achievements, perhaps her greatest was winning the PEN Pinter Prize for the spirit of political activism in 2016.

B. Atwood is a very experienced and encouraging writer. She claims that the only reason the female characters in her poems are suffering is because every woman to whom she has talked about personal experiences has suffered.

C. In conclusion, Atwood is a great role model for anyone looking for a future in writing. Not only is she a great writer, but her poems are also very inspirational and interesting.

Painting Analysis

A. The mood of the painting can be described as overwhelming, demonstrating the idea that Odysseus’s crew is overwhelmed with stress.

The poem demonstrates stress in comparison to human experiences by showing the sirens as problems, and Odysseus’s crew as the humans being overwhelmed by their problems. The sirens are tempting and deceiving, while the crew is trying their best not to fall for the trap. This is very difficult for them, which causes stress.

In conclusion, the artist is trying to show that humans must use all of their strength to resist temptation. Even though the sirens are singing as beautifully as possible, the crew thought ahead and prepared for temptation.

Research about the Artist

A. John William Waterhouse lived a very fulfilling life. He was born on April 6, 1849, and produced over 200 paintings in his lifetime. The paintings by Waterhouse depicted scenes of tragedy, betrayal, and love. Sadly, Waterhouse died at the age of 68 due to cancer. His last painting was titled “The Enchanted Garden”.

B. Even though Waterhouse had cancer, he still continued to persevere with his painting, and he ended up being very successful.

C. In conclusion, Waterhouse worked hard and it paid off in the end. No matter what age he was, he was still very prosperous.

Theme That Connects Poem and Painting

A. The main theme that connects the poem and painting is deception.

The sirens are very deceptive creatures simply by singing. Both the painting and the poem depict the sirens as they sing, tricking passing sailors through the use of flattery.

In conclusion, the painting and poem both share a universal theme: not to fall for simple temptations.


A. In the painting, Waterhouse uses the scene of Sirens trying to mesmerize Odysseus’ crew to show that it is easy for humans to get distracted by their problems and become easily overwhelmed. Meanwhile, in “Siren Song,” Atwood uses the same scene to demonstrate that humans are easily deceived.

B. The painting and the poem both express the idea that humans are easily tricked by small obstacles, or even by each other.

Both the painting and the poem convey two different moods, yet they share the same theme. The painting portrays a sense of stress, while the poem exudes sadness. The unifying theme of these two pieces of art is deception.

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Poem, Painting Analysis. (2022, Aug 20). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/poem-painting-analysis/