In this essay, the function of Nature and how it is incorporated for secret plan patterned advance in the short narrative Mutual oppositions by Margaret Atwood will be examined. Using the different significances of nature, Atwood manages to demo how people s nature, or character, influences their relationship with Nature. The dichotomy of opposing representations of nature will be explored and exposed in this essay. Two characters that will stand for this are Louise and Morrison. Louise will be the opposing force to nature in footings of her relationship with nature itself which is influenced by her character. Morrison would be the complementary force to nature, both in footings of his relationship with it and his character.


Nature has a assortment of significances. It could be considered a originative and unmanageable force that has surrounded us since the beginning of clip. It is the material milieus that have been unchanged and untasted by world ; the universe in its natural or innate province. Nature besides refers to the built-in behaviour or province in a individual, an facet that is unconditioned and exists even without human intervention. It could be considered as inherent aptitude, base emotions or the true character of a individual.

The relationship of Nature and Man is such that nature is the degree of complete absolution, of pureness, and is unchallenged in its high quality to Man. Man ‘s lower status leads to a forced trust on Nature, and endurance in the custodies of a wild, unmanageable force is parlous. As a consequence, it is about impossible for Man to last entirely in the universe and achieve the same degree of integrity that Nature does. However, Man strives to accomplish this through his ain agencies. Man-made objects have been produced in the attempt of come oning civilisation and in a manner, of protecting themselves from the elements of nature. Man has besides imposed regulations on society in the name of civilisation, conditioning people into following with a sense of responsibility. The breakability of Man is cloaked by these semisynthetic objects and regulations, and is now overlooked, a thing of the past where endurance did non hold the benefit of engineering s aid and such.

This relationship of dependance or independency is subtly explored in Mutual oppositions by Margaret Atwood. The rubric itself indicates that there would be a sense of dichotomy or contrast in the short narrative, mutual opposition being the status of holding poles and particularly magnetic or electric poles. This could be interpreted as two existences or beings that are complete antonyms of each other. There are two of import characters in Mutual oppositions who strongly represent this: Morrison and Louise. Their interactions with their environment and each other depict mutual oppositions that are unreconcilable. They struggle with Nature in both senses of the word as interpreted above.

Significance of Nature in Mutual oppositions

The significance of Nature is reflected in the writer s pick of puting. The short narrative takes topographic point in a metropolis where Nature is easy being replaced by edifices and human dwellers ; “ everything else was tower blocks, or worse, low barrack-shaped multiple-housing units, cheaply tacked together ” ( Atwood 53 ) and the menagerie, a topographic point half-natural and half-man-made, was “ 20 stat mis from the metropolis ” ( Atwood 55 ) . Indeed, it is the absence of physical Nature that makes it important. It could hold merely been that Atwood intended to truly put the metropolis as the background. However, the being of the metropolis itself is questioned by two characters: Louise and Morrison. In fact, Louise is of the sentiment that “ the metropolis has no right to be here… it is n’t even on a lake or an of import river… ” ( Atwood 60 ) . Her logical thinking that the metropolis was non near any outstanding piece of Nature, and therefore should non be, implies that Nature is an of import facet that has significance. Morrison besides “ had frequently asked himself the same inquiry ” ( Atwood 60 ) . He had ab initio “ wanted something else… learn something new ” ( Atwood 55 ) and “ had thought the metropolis would be near the mountains ” ( Atwood 55 ) . His premise that merely a close propinquity to a natural landscape would ensue in new cognition indicates that Nature is supposed to be playing an of import portion.

The thought that Nature is superior to semisynthetic objects is subtly hinted at in the short narrative. Though semisynthetic engineering has advanced, assisting Man live more comfortably, Nature still influences these objects. For illustration, the auto that Morrison owns is acquiring stale: the tyres were angular from the cold, the motor sulky ( Atwood 52 ) . Something every bit simple as cold conditions can impact the province of this semisynthetic object. The subject of Nature being able to strongly impact the province of something is echoed in parts of the short narrative. A theory that some people local to the scene had told Morrison is that the frozen H2O atoms held in suspension ( Atwood 62 ) could pierce a Equus caballus s lungs and do decease if the Equus caballus ran through it. Although it may non be true, Morrison himself experienced crisp strivings in his thorax ( Atwood 62 ) after he trotted to the university… when the auto wouldn t start ( Atwood 62 ) . Morrison s effort to last Nature s conditions as a consequence of the failure of his auto was non successful and shows the breakability of Man against Nature when there is no semisynthetic object for protection or assistance. Nature s high quality can be felt and it is strong plenty that Morrison senses that the land was maintaining itself apart from him, non allowing him in ( Atwood 55 ) .

This distance between Nature and Man in this short narrative has been approached in two different ways, or instead, one attack and one un-approach ; un-approach being an attack that does non look like one. As established, two different characters are present to be utilized in polarising the different ways that one can interact with those outside him/herself. Louise represents the dour attack to Nature while Morrison represents the un-approach. Both characters exhibit awareness sing Nature although to different grades. Their relationships with Nature are greatly colored by their ain built-in nature, therefore ensuing in different effects in their relationships.


Main Body:

Louise s and Morrison s Relationship with Nature

Louise is in the chase of integrity and self-completion. As the narrative progresses, her involvement in developing her ain “ system ” is revealed and reaches new highs of compulsion that finally swallows her whole. Louise ‘s construct of her personal “ system ” appears to be the ability to be self-efficient and wholly unreliant on that which is non natural. She believes that it is really harmful to a individual ‘s “ system ” to be reliant on engineering or make Acts of the Apostless that go against the natural currents.

Louise has this demand to be “ complete ” and it is revealed through her actions. When she showed the inside of her room, which she had been working on for rather some clip, to Morrison, “ the consequence was less like a room than like several suites, pieces of which had been cut out and pasted onto another… it was the same integrity in diverseness ” ( Atwood 54 ) . The word “ integrity ” appears to be synonymous with the thought of a harmonious aggregation of a assortment of objects. Subsequently, it is revealed that the consequence of diverseness that was observed in Louise ‘s room is a consequence of Louise choosing interior pieces of people she knows and seting them together: “ the bookcase was a transcript of the 1 in Paul ‘s room, the prints and the tabular array were about indistinguishable with those at Jamiesons ‘ . ” ( Atwood 70 ) . Louise appears to hold been seeking to build herself out of other people she had met ( Atwood 70 ) and this reflects her personal belief that fragments should be put together to organize a whole, to finish the circle ( Atwood 65 ) , which was revealed in her notebook filled with observations of other people.

As stated, Louise believes in the greater whole being independent of human interventions. Deducing to other intimations, Louise besides believes that this independency means a discard of engineering and the care of equilibrium with the natural milieus. She has stopped utilizing the phone and is highly loath to utilize a auto. There is besides an compulsion of maintaining the poles in our encephalon lined up with the poles of the metropolis ( Atwood 64 ) . The gas works and the power works are the north and south poles of the metropolis, organizing the way the current travels across. When Louise and Morrison were traveling to person s place at her petition, she refuses to neither enter the door nor let him to because it faces east ( Atwood 64 ) and she didn T privation to interrupt the current ( Atwood 64 ) . Morrison solved this job by suggesting to come in sideways in order to avoid interrupting the current. There are more illustrations of her compulsion with this equilibrium. She merely took the coach when it was pointed out that it ran north and south and that it went over the right span, the one near the gas works ( Atwood 65 ) . Besides, the following twosome that she wanted to see were chosen because from their life room… both the gas works and the power works were seeable ( Atwood 65 ) .

In the terminal, nevertheless, Louise is unsuccessful in accomplishing integrity and independency. In fact, the antonym is achieved. Whereas her initial end is to be complete, she degenerated into a fragment, a decomposition ( Atwood 73 ) alternatively. Her compulsion had turned what was one time a perchance acute head into its constituent sherds of affair ( Atwood 73 ) ; to set it merely, she went insane and was institutionalized.

In comparing, Morrison is the direct polar antonym in his deficiency of proactivity sing the construct of integrity. He lives his life on a twenty-four hours by twenty-four hours footing and appears to be detached from his milieus. Unlike Louise, Morrison is witting, or at the really least subconsciously cognizant, of the fact that it is about impossible to fling semisynthetic objects in this epoch and still unrecorded expeditiously. He does non trail after the possibility of being an independent entity like Nature. When his auto started weakness, he was ab initio forced to “ debris it, and ( he ) had decided stoically to make without a auto until he found he could n’t ” ( Atwood 52 ) . This statement, with enunciation such as ‘stoically ‘ , demonstrates how Morrison is apathetic to the thought of being independent of his semisynthetic auto. At the same clip, he is non unreceptive to the thought that he can non make without it. He adapts to the state of affairs as necessary and depends on objects outside himself to make so. Another illustration is when Louise had out of the blue come to his house. The furnace had malfunctioned and he decided that it was less problem to remain in bed, at least till the Sun had good risen ( Atwood 60 ) than to seek other ways of maintaining warm. However, Louise came and so he left his bed which led him to exchange on the oven and go forth its door unfastened to maintain warm. Morrison has a wont of allowing things be, leting Nature to derive control, until he is put into a state of affairs where he has to move by utilizing a semisynthetic object.

Morrison is a fragment that is uncomplete. Though he seemed about apathetic to this fact, over the class of the short narrative he easy realizes that he is excessively disconnected. At the beginning, he stated that one of the pupils in his category wanted everyone to sit in a circle but fortunately the remainder of them preferred consecutive lines ( Atwood 52 ) . He mentions fortunately, which seems to connote that he preferred consecutive lines as good ; fragments that have a beginning and stop unlike a circle. Then, He was get downing to experience stray inside his apparels and tegument ( Atwood 56 ) , bespeaking that he is get downing to believe about his current province of life and experience the effects of being fragmented. Finally, he thinks back to Louise s room and how it was made of parts of different people s suites. However, Louise did non take anything from his room and he thinks of his iciness interior, embryologic and blighted, ( and ) he realized it had nil for her to take ( Atwood 70 ) . It was at this point that Morrison genuinely began to contemplate his life and turn the desire to be reunited with his ain organic structure, which he felt less and less that he really occupied ( Atwood 73 ) . It was this province of head that he maintained while he drove off from the suppressing edifice that housed the disintegrated Louise. Somehow, he drove to the menagerie without even recognizing and at that place, he witnessed something was being told, something that had nil to make with him, the thing that you could larn merely after the remainder was finished with and discarded ( Atwood 75 ) . That something was the land opening before him. Nature allowed him into the circle and showed him the admirations that are a portion of Her. He thought he could see the mountains, white-covered, their crests glistening in the falling Sun ( Atwood 75 ) , woods, the tundra, rivers and beyond, so far that the eternal dark had already descended, the frozen sea ( Atwood 75 ) .

Morrison had been a portion of the circle, for that minute, and was basically given a gustatory sensation of what Louise had been prosecuting. While he himself is non an independent entity that is united, he is non obsessional and allows the state of affairs to take control alternatively of the other manner unit of ammunition, therefore giving room for Nature to take over.

The Effect of Their Inherent Nature on Their Relationship with Nature

Louise s and Morrison s relationship with Nature are on the opposite terminals of a spectrum and this is influenced by their ain nature, or in other words, character. Louise is a stiff character who favors construction and organisation. Therefore, her nature is unlike Nature which is wild and unmanageable, making a spread in their relationship. However, Morrison is rather a simple adult male who is content to allow others direct the show. While non alike to Nature, he is complementary and this contributed to his fleeting inclusion to Nature s integrity.

At first glimpse, Louise appears to be the authoritative calling adult female: efficient, steady, and determined to manage everything on her ain. Readers are given a peep into her character right at the beginning of the short narrative. She ever spoke of what she had been making with organisational, about military alacrity… ( Atwood 51 ) . The first thing we, the readers, are told is that Louise is a little theoretical account of… efficiency ( Atwood 51 ) . She wastes no excess attempt to state what she needs to state and is about, as established, military in her behavior. This is emphasized by her manner of walking which is processing in short clipped stairss ( Atwood 51 ) . She besides didn t accept any favours ( Atwood 52 ) , which shows a ferociously independent side of her.

Besides her strong sense of efficiency, Louise seems to hold a sense of high quality. While this could be mistaken as merely her being true, there are undertones to her actions that point otherwise. A simple illustration is when she offered to assist Morrison. Innocent plenty and in fact, it seems like she is merely being helpful. However, she spoke as though it was a large dainty ( Atwood 58 ) . Possibly it would be a dainty as even Morrison admitted to himself that she would be better at it than he was ( Atwood 58 ) , but the implied sense of high quality in the manner she offered her aid makes it more than that. This feature is besides shown when she was speaking about the professor and the category she was in ( she is a Graduate Assistant ) . She believes that they don t know what s traveling on in that class, he doesn T cognize what s traveling on ( Atwood 58 ) and that if they don t acquire what I ( Louise ) mean though I ll know they re all hypocrites ( Atwood 59 ) . In her eyes, their different sentiments are incorrect and that she is right.

While these qualities are non peculiarly bad, they do non complement the very nature of Nature that is wildness and uncontrollability. Louise s obsessional chase of complete integrity and independency neglected to understand those built-in qualities. Her military behavior speaks of a excessively stiff construction that is inflexible and her sense of high quality is misplaced in the face of Nature s high quality. She does non understand that it is impossible to be like Nature, an independent and whole entity, as she is portion of this integrity, and therefore, is unable to be one separate entity. As a consequence, her attempts to make so backfired and alternatively caused her to be a mere, undistinguished human being stuck in an establishment for the mentally impaired.

Morrison is the polar antonym of Louise. Whereas she is organized and alert, he is haphazard in his decision-making. He is cognizant of this and to him, whose head shambled from one thing to another, picking up, fingering, puting down… he ought to be exposing more of ( Atwood 51 ) the efficiency that she did. This botching about has Morrison merely traveling along with her and other people s programs for the most portion. We as the readers can see the words yieldingly ( Atwood 60 ) , without protest ( Atwood 65 ) , and obeyed ( Atwood 67 ) used in mention to Morrison. He seldom disagrees with person, preferring to maintain impersonal alternatively of taking a side. In peculiar, the episode where he and other people brought Louise to the establishment shows his desire to be impersonal. As a friend of Louise, he would prefer to non hold the duty of seting her in the establishment but at the same clip, he does non desire the duty of assisting her which he couldn t anyhow. He felt like person appointed to a firing squad: it was non his pick, it was his responsibility, no 1 could fault him ( Atwood 67 ) .

Another facet of him is his indifference to the universe. He exists within his ain bubble and can non be bothered to step out of it. In respects to his professional life, he prefers to merely learn the topic and bury about them ( the pupils ) as people ( Atwood 52 ) . It disconcerts him when pupils tell him about their life, in order to acquire an extension for a deadline in some instances. It may look to be professionalism but this attitude extends to his life outside work. When he foremost moved into his flat, a neighbour approached him for a conversation and he said that he was busy. Morrison did hold work but he besides didn Ts want to acquire involved with person he didn T know ( Atwood 57 ) . He prefers to distance himself from his milieus and merely drift around like a cloud. However, he did turn out to be altering himself and traveling towards a less degage life style as evidenced by his new wont of taking attention of his milieus ( shovelling his stairss and seting salt to run the ice when he did non antecedently ) and really interacting with people ( him speaking to the neighbour whom he had antecedently ignored ) .

His feature of allowing people decide for him and distancing himself is complementary to Nature in the sense that Nature can make whatever it wants and he would merely accommodate. It is non a state of affairs of perfect coupling of features but merely a feasible relationship. As he began to alter in footings of being less apathetic, Nature welcomed him and opened him up to its admirations.


Man struggles with Nature in Polarities by Margaret Atwood and through this battle, different consequences were achieved. The writer s words clearly depicted a contrasting image, as the rubric of the short narrative implies, between the two characters: Louise and Morrison. Through elusive and not-so-subtle intimations, the nature of the characters were shown to hold straight affected their relationships with Nature. Louise, with her stiff, inflexible nature, chased after going a exclusive entity independent of semisynthetic objects like Nature. As a consequence of her character, which is unlike Nature, and her obsessional chase of accomplishing independency, she was set back and became a disconnected decomposition, the antonym of her end. Morrison on the other manus, did non trail after independency or self-unity. His laidback and about apathetic character allowed an easy relationship with Nature and in the terminal, one time he had a desire to unify his organic structure and head, and go one, Nature opened up to him. Their contrasting ends and characters created a complex dance with Nature and merely one survived the dance: Morrison.