Still I Rise by Maya Angelou Literary Analysis Essay

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Still I Rise by Maya Angelou Literary Analysis Essay

By | May 2013
Page 1 of 2
In the poem ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou, the poet uses repetition, metaphors and similes to express to her audience about how she has overcome racism in her life through demonstrating a strong, proud and defiant attitude to inspire others.

The poet uses repetition of the word ‘rise’ to show that she has overcome and risen above racism. In the line, ‘you may trod me in the very dirt but still, like dust ill rise’ it expresses to the reader one of the key ideas in her poem, that no matter how unjustly others may treat her because of her colour, she will not be defeated and will stand up again. The main symbol in that line is the rising dust. For dust to rise, it must be unsettled from the ground in order for it to leave and rise, which represents Angelou’s overcoming of racism. Her oppressors are on the “ground” and because they have ‘unsettled’ her by treating her wrongly, she has decided to be strong which results in her rising above them all, challenging racism. The use of repetition is further exemplified when the poet repeats the words ‘I rise’ 5 times in the last stanza. This puts an emphasis on the theme of the poem, reminding the reader of what she was trying to express at the start, when she was comparing herself to rising dust from the ground.

To help strengthen the effect of repeating the word ‘rise’, Angelou also uses metaphoric imagery to express the hateful racism she received from others, as well as her determined attitude to stand up against it. In the extract, ‘you may shoot me with your words…,cut me with your eyes…,kill me with your hatefulness’, the poet uses words that gives connotations of extreme pain, danger and fear. She uses these words to express to the reader the deep pain she felt emotionally, by comparing it to physical pain. For example, in the line ‘you may shoot me with your words,’ Angelou is comparing each hurtful word that people say, to a bullet being shot at her. The poet uses such effective vivid imagery to let us...