Still I Rise

Maya Angelou & Protest Poetry: An Essay 10th Grade

Poetry can be a powerful medium in expressing an opinion which is then left to the reader’s interpretation. Maya Angelou’s poetry does not merely ‘remind’ us of our conscience but challenges our sense of right and wrong to protest against injustices. In two of her most famous poems, Still I Rise and Caged Bird, Angelou successfully challenges the ethics surrounding social inequalities through a variety of literary techniques. Although the manner in which Angelou challenges inequality, discrimination and wrongdoing in both poems is almost contrasting, both poems are just as successful in delivering their message to a range of audiences and the variety of their interpretations.

Angelou uses imagery to illustrate social inequalities, their relevance to all of society and to communicate her protest against these inequalities. In Caged Bird, Angelou uses the metaphor of two birds: a “caged bird” and a “free bird”. The birds are representative of opposing groups of humans. While the “free” and the “caged” allude to the freedom of white people in comparison to the enslavement of African Americans, the notion of “naming the sky” as opposed to “standing” on “the grave of dreams”, is relevant to other oppressed groups and individuals....

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