A Theme Of Freedom In The Poem I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou was born, according to the Poetry Foundation (2004), “in Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4th, 1928. She was a female African-American poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer. Her poem “Caged Bird” was written in 1969, and it was her most acknowledge poem”. This poem has many possible explanations, depending on what context you are going with. But there is only one theory that is close to what Maya was living. “In one of its most evocative (and controversial) moments, Angelou describes how she was first cuddled then raped by her mother’s boyfriend when she was just seven years old”. In my opinion, her feelings of being constantly harassed by this person explain why she felt so trapped in this atmosphere and how she imagined having a free life. This can be supported by the first stanza of the poem in which she describes how a person, in this case, a bird, is free without limitations and no way of stopping or going towards the dream. In the opposite, a caged bird is the one that is trapped in that little space without being able to fly or express itself. This is also a sign of what African-Americans used to live in that time, where white people mistreated the free expression of black people. In other words, the whole context of the poem is based on the term “freedom” and what would happen in life without it.

The contrast of the whole poem, as I said earlier, the difference between a free bird and caged bird is that free bird has no limitations and is able to express its feelings while a caged bird is trapped and more isolated or ignored. In this case, the author expresses her own feelings on how she felt growing up in a rough life and the racial supremacy. Another important note that this poem has is that it’s very symbolic in the terms of “free bird” which is as I said earlier, a sense of freedom. It’s also similar to the “white dove” which is peace and tranquility. The author is expressing her feelings about what a free bird is able to do. Some keywords of this are “leaps”, “dips”, “bright”, etc. In the other context, she explains caged bird as something atrocious such as words like “rage”, “fearful trill”, “nightmare”, etc. Another important note is that there is a quite ironic term where the author says “The caged bird sings” which is the opposite since the one that is supposed to be singing is the free bird. But the caged bird sings a “fearful trill”, which in this case is more like a frantic cry for freedom. Another message that the poem can convey, apart from the whole mistreatment of black people and how the author felt with the abuse of her mother’s boyfriend, can be on how the women were treated back in the day, were they thought that women were only allowed to take care of children, cook, clean, a typical housewife. If the women were to go out of the regimen, she would have many consequences, and so her freedom was more limited. There are many messages that this poem can show since the whole topic of this poem is that there are people that have more freedom than others. Some other examples can be the concept of religion, were people are limited to some sort of things, or even in the LGBT community, were there are still people that religiously discriminate against them and those people inside that community feel trapped, and there are so many more examples that the message of the poem can explain.

In conclusion, the whole point that the author, Maya Angelou, conveyed is that freedom is something very important in our society. Nobody deserves to be “caged” or trapped with restrictions on doing what they wish or what they dream to be. Even if they are in a cage, they still have hope and dreams waiting to be fulfilled. This poem not only does it give us a stand in the world in making us be heard and express ourselves, but it also gives us tranquil thinking that we can be accepted, and we can be free of thoughts and feelings with no limitations in doing the things we hope to do. We also must not let fear be the one stopping our dreams, instead, let it be the one that motivates you in doing what a free bird can do.  

16 December 2021
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