Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

Essay by lucy123987High School, 11th grade December 2007

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Maya Angelou uses various methods to reflect social injustice and lack of liberty in her poem, 'Caged Bird'.

The bird is a symbol of freedom, but a 'caged' bird symbolizes cruelty and inequity. while the poem is also about animal rights, its true aim is to speak out for the opressed.

The poem opens with a surreal description of the free bird who 'leaps', 'floats', and 'dips' its wings in the 'orange sun's rays'. All these words reflect lightheartedness, joy and a vibrant atmosphere. Immidiately however the second stanza begins with a transitional word- 'But' and an introduction to the 'caged bird'.Here certain words seem to jump out at the reader like 'bars', 'rage', 'cage' and 'stalk'- they reflect anger and resentment which is in a complete contrast to the free bird. this juxtaposition is very important as it hepls us to understand the connection between the free and the enslaved.

The free bird 'dares' to claim the sky, something untangeable and limitless, and when this bird is trying to conquer the entire sky we feel empathy for the bird that cannot see through his bars of rage, let alone 'dare to claim the sky'.

Reading further, we see that the caged bird has wings that are 'clipped' and feet that are 'tied'; its way to gain flight is cut, and its way to move is fastened. and the only device left to the caged bird with which it can truly express himself is through his voice. His voice is very heartfelt as it comes, not from his mouth but from his throat. However even this one connection to the free world is left at a 'tune'- not allowed to develop. While the free bird is progressing from stanza to stanza, the caged bird reflects no growth, almost...