It’s a fact that Maya Angelou is known for writing poetry and novels that empower and inspire many people, especially African Americans. Critics have different beliefs of the purposes of her poems. This research paper will focus on two of Angelou’s most famous works: “Caged Bird” and “Still I Rise”. Critics believe that the main focus on these two poems is reflected on African American history. They go much deeper. These two poems reflect her life story as well, which is why so many people are attached or emotionally drawn to her work. I truly believe that Maya Angelou wrote these two poems because of the personal experiences she encountered in her life.
Critics mainly believe that the poem “Caged Bird” speaks of slavery. They say that the caged bird represents the slaves that want to be free from the locks and chains of their owners. They want to be able to do as they please without the fear of punishment and freedom to live their lives as they please. Critics say that the free birds are the white race ( lyonsupe1 par 2). They are free to laugh and play as they please. They are free to live their lives like they want. They don’t have to worry about being punished for having freedom of speech. Does the poem symbolize the caged bird wanting a chance to show courage and confidence that the free bird has? Yes it does, but not in the way that critics say. In Maya Angelou’s bio, it’s stated that there was a time in Angelou’s life when she was around 7 or 8 years old, when she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend (Dyson par. 51). He was convicted and sent to jail for a year but was released the next day. When he was released he was murdered supposedly by her uncle’s. After this, Angelou became mute for 5 years because she felt that the murder of her mother’s boyfriend was her fault because she told on him. This is the point when she feels like a caged bird. She had lost her courage and confidence and caged herself in because of the...
Cited: Angelou, Maya. Poems: “Caged Bird” and “Still I Rise”. New York: Bantam Books, 1986.
Angelou, Maya. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. New York: Ballantine Books, 1997.
Dyson, Cindy, Harold Bloom. "Biography of Maya Angelou." Bloom 's BioCritiques: Maya Angelou (2002): 3-48. Literary Reference Center. 26 May 2010. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lfh&AN=16305601&site=lrc- live
Lyonsupe1. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. 19 January 2010. SHVOONG. 26 May 2010. http://www.shvoong.com/humanities/1965741-know-caged-bird-sings/.
Whittington, Mark. “Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans-a Review”. 24, January 2009. Associatedcontent. 26, May 2010. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1415894/still_i_rise_a_graphic_history_of_african.html?cat=9.
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