Analysis Of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings By Maya Angelou

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“I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” was written by Maya Angelou in 1969, was originally inspired by Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy”. Angelou received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and dominated the New York Bestseller list for two years.This poem we will be deconstructing today, contrasts the ultimate struggles of a caged bird attempting to rise above the limitations of adverse and unfortunate surroundings with the flight of a bird that is free.

Maya Angelou was born as Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis Missouri on April 4, 1928. Throughout her life, she became on of the most renowned and influential voices of all time.Angelou attained over 50 honorary doctorate degrees, and became a celebrated poet, educator, actress, historian, dramatist,
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Growing up, Maya faces southern racism and sexual violence. The aftermath of these situations had forced her to stop speaking because believed she had become a mouthpiece for the devil when she denied in court that a man had molested her prior to rape. She felt she was responsible for the violent murder of the criminal. Introduced to Mrs. Bertha Flowers, an educated, kind woman, Maya is encouraged to read works of literature out loud, providing her with books of poetry which gradually helped her regain her voice. Maya was inspired to write poetry and books when she endured several appalling incidents that taught her valuable lessons about the nature of racism.

“I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” dealt with the racism and trauma so many families and individuals faced throughout time. Soon after the violence, poverty and segregation of her own childhood, Angelou became a singer, cocktail waitress, dancer, prostitute and actress, before beginning her writing career.

Tributes to Maya Angelou described the poet, author and activist as “one of the brightest lights of our time” stated the US Barack Obama. He childhood was full of suffering and constant abuse. This drove her to stop speaking but she eventually found her voice and changed the lives of generations of Americans in finding the light and has inspired the rest of us to be our
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It can be identified as a symbol of downtrodden African Americans and their strenuous experiences they face in life.

To critically analyse this quote, the reader is immediately aware of the words, “Caged Bird”. From this it can be identified that the story will necessarily involve the restriction which have been imposed by a cage on the trapped bird within its indestructible bars. It basically represents the oppression faced by all African Americans.

Two traditional literary themes are evident in the title. The reversal of fortune and survival of the fittest. Angelou presents the free bird before the depiction of the caged bird to help the reader visualise what the caged bird must have been experiencing before it was captured. A sense of loss is acquired by the reader because of its reversed fate.

If we deconstruct the first two stanzas, there is a contrasting of two birds. Lines 1 through to 7 describe the actions of a bird that is free where it peacefully interacts with nature and “dares to claim the sky”. The second stanza, lines 8 through to 14, tells the life of a caged bird that endures tied feet, clipped wings and is trapped behind bars of utter rage. Despite all of this, he still opens his throat and

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