Morning in the Burned House displays themes, interests and styles characteristic of Atwood’s poetry. These include attention to the landscape of the Canadian Shield, an air of foreboding, and poems addressed to an unspecified "you." However, the collection contains two distinct thematic concerns. The first explores the theme of torture, in particular the torture of women, through the retelling of myths such as those of Cressida, Helen of Troy, and a lion-headed goddess of war. The second is a sequence of poems which explore the theme of aging and mortality, through the depiction and response to the poet's father's slow death by cancer.