Caged Bird Essay
Question: Explore the ways in which the poet has used language and other poetic devices to present ideas in ???Caged Bird??™
In the poem ???Caged Bird??™, the poet Maya Angelou expresses her views on social injustice. The poem itself is an extended metaphor of two birds; one bird is ???caged??™ while the other is ???free??™, this is a metaphor towards slavery with the ???free bird??™ representing whites and the ???caged bird??™ representing blacks. It could also be argued, though, towards any example of social injustice. Angelou shows her views through the use of conjunctions, rhyme and use of diction. Together, these techniques give a clear contrast of the unfairness between the standards of the ???free bird??™ and the ???caged bird??™.
When describing the ???free bird??™ Angelou starts lines with the conjunction ???and??™; ???and floats downstream??™, ???and dips his wings??™. This repetition of ???and??™ followed by what the ???free bird??™ does shows the many choices and opportunities the ???free bird??™ gets. The ???free bird??™ is ???free??™ to do as he pleases; he even ???dares to claim the sky??™. This relates to social injustice as the ???caged bird??™ ???sings of things unknown but longed for still??™, as if the ???caged bird??™ is deprived of the rights of the ???free bird??™ to ???dip his wing??™ or ???float downstream??™. The use of this conjunction shows the many choices the ???free bird??™ has and the injustice of the caged bird not getting these same opportunities.
In a repeated stanza (3 and 6) Angelou uses end rhyme to show the ???caged bird??™s??™ lust for freedom and to add emphasis to the fact that the ???caged bird??™ does not get the same opportunities as the ???free bird??™. Throughout stanza??™s 5 and 6 Angelou uses a repeated rhyme pattern, ???trill??¦still??¦hill??™, before on the last line of the stanza the word is a mismatched word, ???freedom??™. Having this word mismatched adds emphasis to it and shows the how much the caged bird wanted this unique thing; ???of things unknown and long for still. This relates to the social injustice in the poem as it is the ???caged bird??™ ???singing out for freedom??™ as he has no freedom of his own. This single word, ???freedom??™, holds so much significance in the poem; it rounds of the stanza and the poem as well as presenting the lack of ???freedom??™ for the ???caged bird??™.
Angelou??™s diction is another technique employed by her in presenting the theme of social injustice. Angelou uses contrasting images when describing, in turn, the ???free bird??™ and the ???caged bird??™; from the ???free birds??™ easy going life to the ???caged birds??™ predetermined ???nightmare scream??™. Angelou first describes how the ???free bird??™ can float ???on the back of the wind??™ before, in the next stanza describing how the ???caged bird??™ has to be content with ???(stalking) down his narrow cage??™. This contrasting image shows how the ???free bird??™ or whites are free to explore and ???claim??™ the sky whereas blacks are stuck in the life of slavery which they were born into. This obviously shows the social injustice of the ???caged bird??™ not being able to explore the world he is in another example of this is that the ???caged birds??™ ???wings are clipped and feet are tied??™. These contrasting images back up the ideas of the social injustice against the ???caged bird??™ through showing the ability for the ???free bird??™ to roam and explore the world as opposed to the ???caged bird??™ being stuck behind ???narrow cage??™
We see examples of social injustice in our everyday lives in the form of racial abuse, although it is not as extreme as in the poem. The poem highlights this problem and shows it through a number of language and sound techniques, such as end rhyme and the use of conjunctives. This poem has a rather stand-out theme, but the theme is such that we should take heed of it in our daily lives. In conclusion the poem ???caged bird??™ shows the views of social injustice clearly through clever use of sound and language techniques. The poem holds a strong message relevant to us all.
By Abdel El Karamany