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Literary Research Paper
ENGL 3173
Principles of Literary Criticism

Name: Precious Joy A. Berida Date: January 14, 2013 Year and Section: BSED EN 3-1D Professor: Dr Junithesmer D. Rosales

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou: A Poem Overcoming Prejudice

“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou is a courageous and inspiring poem written about the emerging prominence of African Americans published on the year 1978. It was published in Angelou's poem collection titled “And Still I Rise”, two years after her musical dramatic production “And Still I Rise” was produced. “Still I Rise” is a poem about overcoming the trials and survival of women over slavery, racial discrimination and sexism wherein sexism is defined as prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially discrimination against women and, or behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex. It may include the belief that a human of one sex is intrinsically superior to the other.(Wikipedia, n.d.)

Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Ann Johnson on April 4, 1928, is an African-American. On the time that she made the poem “Still I Rise”, the rising reputation of her race occurred during the nation's civil rights movement. During the nation’s civil rights movement, black citizens have suffered from extreme discrimination and racial harassment. They were forced to leave their lives in Africa and get on upon a journey to United States where they would be put to work as slaves. But then the blacks fought against discrimination whenever it was possible. They sued in court to stop separate seating in railroad cars, states' disfranchisement of voters, and denial to access restaurants and schools. The black people experienced violation of human rights and were not treated as human beings but possessions of the white people. In her poem, the author herself represents not only her race but particularly black African American women who suffered from humiliation, discrimination and slavery. Maya Angelou is like directly talking to the people who wants to oppress over her or discriminate her on the race she belongs. On the time that there had a big segregation between the blacks and the whites by the year 1978, it motivated Maya Angelou to write this poem representing a strong character over the oppressors which she believes that she will overcome all the struggles and remains the faith that she will rise in victory.

The poem is composed of 8 stanzas, 52 lines and is written in free verse. The rhyming of the poem is A, B, C, and B except the last stanza. Imagery overpowers the literary piece.The author used figurative language that is very appealing for it conveys strong emotions and gives a big impact to the people who read it. The author often used figure of speech such as simile, metaphor and personification. For example, “Just like moons and like suns” (line 9), classified as simile, can be interpreted as a comparison on how the moon and sun rises every day and night, and on how the author herself rises from the difficulties that she had gone through.“Shoulders falling down like teardrops” (line 15), which is also simile, seemed a comparison on how a person’s shoulders drop when they feel so down, similar to how teardrops fall from the eyes when being harmed, badly hurt, or emotionally wounded since it mentioned the word “teardrop” which is mostly associated with sadness.

“Does my sassiness upset you?” (line 5); “Do you want to see me broken?” (line 13); “Does my haughtiness offend you?” (line 17); “Does my sexiness offend you?” (line 25), these lines somewhat get the reader’s attention since the writer started to ask questions. It gives a connection between the reader and the writer and it is very effective because Maya Angelou wants to make the readers read the poem and take it to a more personal level. The author seemed a little sarcastic on how she asked these lines. “Oil wells; gold mines; diamonds”, which is a...
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