“Thoughts from Underground” and “Introduction: Roughing it in the Bush” Comparison Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Apr 15th, 2019

Comparison of the Two Poems and representation of Canada

Margret Atwood’s poetry work revolves around representative literature. She portrays Canada during the 19th century. In her work, ‘Thoughts from Underground’, she portrays the challenges and the perception that different people had of Canada.

The poem revolves around the country’s political and social organization. Moodie’s book, ‘Introduction: Roughing it in the Bush’ speaks of the country in a disparaging way. She does not understand the fuss and hype about migrating to Canada.

This paper seeks to compare and contrast the two literary works in the way they portray and represent Canada. In the introduction, Moodie is a pessimistic and negative person. She does not understand the rationale behind the massive migration to Canada.

The poem ‘Thoughts from Underground’ depicts Canada in a transition. The author, Margret Atwood, portrays Susanna Moodie as the main character who had migrated from England to Canada during the 19th century. At the outset, Moodie is upset with the country that she has migrated to and becomes a part of it. She hates Canada for very many reasons including its winter and summer.

She is in total denial of her new country and misses her home country a great deal (Moodie 36). To this end, the poem portrays Canada as a mean country where everyone seems not to care. Moodie sees that every person is rude while she is not. She feels out of place and struggles to fit in the society. These thoughts of Canada portrays the country in a negative manner where everyone seems little concerned about the happenings of the outside world.

As the country changes, Moodie becomes successful and is not willing to let her initial hatred ruin her success. She becomes proud of Canada owing to the success that she achieves in the country and starts comparing it with England (Atwood 59). Although her heart is in love with Canada, she also holds the same feeling for her native country.

She rationalizes her feelings by accepting the fact that she would not be in a position to go back to England and finds it a good idea to love Canada. This however, does not change the fact that the country is not comparable to Britain where the society is kind and loving.

As she continues with her life in Canada, she becomes a part of the society and feels that she is a part of it. It is at this time that she ponders how she has changed although she had attributed the changes to the dynamic environment of the country.

Atwood depicts the country as dynamic since it begins to appreciate diversity. After so many years of discrimination, the country has become of age and treats every person with the same regard. To this end, the poem highlights how Moodie felt on her arrival to the country and her acceptance of the fact that she would succeed in Canada and that it was impossible to go back to England.

She becomes aware of that fact and begins to appreciate the opportunities that her new country offers (Atwood 61). After evaluating all the negative feelings she has had in the country, she begins to have a new perspective of the good things she has witnessed. The rationale is that she now understands that her negative perception had led her to believing that Canada was not the right place for her.

While the reverse is true, she still holds reservations for the country. The poem’s depiction of Canada as a land that has appreciated change is partly because of the desperation that Moodie shows (35). She has no hope of ever going back to England.

As such, the desperation has led her to accepting that she has no other choice other than loving her new country. Nonetheless, the poem depicts Canada in a positive sense in that every person is equal and can take any opportunity that the country provides.

This work is a memory of Canada in the 19th century. It depicts how the country changed and the efforts that people made to enhance the changes. In a precise way, the poem denotes the country as it was and the progress it made in becoming accommodative to people’s needs and diversity.

In fact, Atwood’s work is a sincere picture of the country and unnamed people who made the progress possible. To this end, people began realizing their dreams and they became proud of Canada thus, they portray it as a land where any person could succeed (Atwood 61). Although Moodie had suffered in the same country, it is noticeable that the country has changed a great deal making her successful and comfortable.

In the book, ‘Introduction: Roughing it in the bush’, the author introduces Mrs. Moodie as a person who is pessimistic about emigration. She describes the conditions that forced people to migrate to other countries and asserts that people left their luxurious homes and enjoyment in search of better opportunities.

This is in addition to escaping sarcasm from the rest of British society for their perceived low social status. What the emigrants did not understand is the disappointment in the foreign land.

Moodie highlights that educated people in British society composed of military men were willing to leave the comfort of their country in the early 19th century. Australia was the most appealing land to migrate to although it did not take long before the potential emigrants realized the disenchantment in the foreign land (6).

Their focus shifts to Canada. In the introduction of the book, Moodie pinpoints the enthusiasm that the emigrants exhibited about Canada. People told tales about fertile land, nearness to their mother country, favorable climate and most of all, a notion prevailed that there was no taxation in Canada (1).

Nonetheless, nobody told the emigrants of the negative aspects of the land. Tens of thousands migrated to Canada. Upon arrival, Moodie says that the naive migrants bought huge tracts of land to assert their dominance as colonists. Throughout the introduction of the book, Moodie seems very pessimistic about migration although some of the emigrants became successful and prospered in the new land.

The introduction of the book is comparable to the poem, ‘Thoughts from Underground’ in the sense that the country suffers innumerable challenges including poverty. Despite these challenges, emigrants seemed unmoved and determined to leave their native country according to Moodie.

While Atwood shies away from emphasizing on material poverty, Moodie disparages the residents and the natives and compares them to the poorest of all people in the British society (6). Although Moodie describes the great opportunities that existed in Canada as tales, she applauds Canada and points out that the emigrants who bought large tracts of land had prospered.

Atwood insists on the importance of change for a country to make progress. Moodie’s introduction does not place emphasis on the potential for success. All she emphasizes is the rust and smut of the environment and other aspects of the society that she finds appalling.

While Atwood depicts Canada as a land that has made numerous strides in development, Moodie remains negative and pessimistic that the country could provide a safe haven for the emigrants. She depicts the emigrants to the country as sheepish since they were oblivious of the promised opportunities. Emigrants had the notion that they could build a log house within hours with the help of generous neighbors.

Nonetheless, Moodie dismisses this notion by saying that the houses were despicable. She says that, “migrants did not venture upon a picture of disgusting scenes of riot and low debauchery exhibited in raising dens of dirt which could be likened to English pig-sties” (7). To her, the country could rarely prosper owing to her perceived backwardness.

Unlike Moodie’s introduction, the poem ‘Thoughts from Underground’ by Atwood shows both sides of Canada and depicts changes and revolutions that the country underwent in the medieval era. Atwood’s portrays Canada as a country where every person is able to make ends meet although it was almost impossible in the past (Atwood 55).

This way, her depiction of Canada is honest like that of any other country where both the good and the bad are major characteristics. It is also important to notice that racial segregation was aparent in the country during that period. However, progressive administration and ability of the country to appreciate change was typical of success that Atwood explains.


In effect, Atwood and Moodie’s works have few comparable aspects in the way they both ortray Canada. Although they both appraise the social and political organization of the country, Moodie is negative and pessimistic of the country. She does not understand the rationale behind migration.

Throughout her introduction, Moodie describes the massive migration to Canada as unreasonable and compares the emigrants to a flock of sheep heading to a slaughterhouse without their knowledge.

Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret. The Journals of Susanna Moodie. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1970. Print.

Moodie, Susanna. Introduction: Roughing It in the Bush. Toronto: Penguin Publishers, Print.

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