And Still I Rise: Maya Angelou's Feminist Approach

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To what extent is a Feminist critical approach helpful in opening up potential meanings in Maya Angelou’s “And Still I Rise”?

Maya Angelou’s “And Still I Rise” gives a powerful message to the reader from the start of the collection with the title and the numerous, alternative meanings behind it. One potential meaning could be Maya’s rising up against oppression and her effort to try and escape from women’s traditional stereotypical roles in society. Another interpretation could be that the collection is seen as a rally call directed towards women, to rise up against male institutions and to fight for equality and social acceptance. Collectively the poems cover a wide spectrum of topics mainly concentrated on gender roles, whilst including themes such as segregation, oppression, sexuality, feminism, masculinity, rape and hardship, which shows the wide variety of subjects in Angelou’s poetry. Her use of personal narratives in the collection helps to form a large picture of her life and is symbolic of Angelou’s rise to become a point of consciousness and influence for Afro-American people. Through her poems she recalls an emotional past of racial prejudice and social inequality, but this is an effort to show black women seeking to fight against and survive against a male dominated society, and also to show the enormity of white people’s hatred towards blacks and the lack of power that black people possessed at the time. Maya Angelou’s poems are inspired by generations of women, African-Americans mainly, but all people who struggle to overcome prejudice, discrimination and abuse. Maya Angelou is seen as a feminist writer combining the power struggle of equality for women as well as a end to racial prejudice. Since her collection of poems “And Still I Rise” are written mainly from a female’s point of view, most of her poems present the reader with some form of feminist view, or a feminist interpretation as well as poems that don’t conform feminist ideas. Through...
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