School: New York IB
Subject: English Literature
Criteria: Assignment 2
Topic: “How is social injustice portrayed in Caged Bird by Maya Angelou and Song to the Men of England by Percy Bysshe Shelly?” Word Count: 899
Social injustice is indeed very vividly portrayed in “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou and “Song to the Men of England”.
“Caged Bird” is based upon Maya Angelou’s first autobiographical book “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, and the title is taken from a poem by poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, who was the son of two former slaves. Therefore, she could relate to his situation of the ‘caged bird’. When Maya Angelou talks about a ‘caged bird’, she meant a black person in those times. Slavery had been abolished a few generations back, but black people were still widely discriminated. A black person never had the sense of freedom a white person had. Maya Angelou believed in this freedom for everyone, as did some others, as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. She was calling out to other black people, she was “singing” for freedom, as a caged bird that longs to escape, even though he seemingly can’t- ‘his wings are clipped and his feet are tied’. So, the caged bird ‘opens his throat to sing’. In this poem, Angelou makes a contrast between the free bird, a white man, and a caged bird- a black man. She uses lots of personification in her descriptions of each bird, to make it clear that she is actually talking about humans. The free bird in her poem ‘leaps’, ‘dips his wing’, and ‘dares to claim the sky’. These are all heroic and beautiful descriptions of the free bird. The caged bird ‘stalks’, ‘seldom sees through his bars of rage’ and ‘his wings are clipped and his feet are tied’ so he ‘opens his throat to sing’. The picture of the caged bird is a gloomy and nasty one- it ‘stalks’, meaning an awkward, stiff long step. Words as ‘narrow cage’ and ‘bars of rage’ create a...