Attitude Towards Oppression And Sassiness In Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise


Literature – this plays the superior role in world’s history of human life. This consist the past, present, and future contributions in itself. Through literature we can able to know the life style and sufferings of our ancestors according their cultural manner. Subaltern is a kind of literature which records the bothering faced by human beings by various aspects.This may deals with feminism, racism, oppression, gender discrimination and sexism, etc. This paper quests on Maya Angelou’s Still I Risepoem. Here Angelou directly expresses her attitude towards her oppressors. This paper also examines about the speakers earnest to fulfill the dreams and hopes of African black people.

 “If you don’t like something, change it.

If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

-Maya Angelou.

Maya Angelou was a well-known American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She put pen to paper seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry. Angelou is best known for her series of autobiographies which focus on her childhood and early adulthood experiences. She publishes Still I Rise poem in the year of 1976. This was one of the most powerful poems that she ever wrote. “Still I Rise” is one of the most influential poems ever written by Angelou. From the title also we could able to clearly understand about her immortal will power. Here she used to symbolize the sun comparing with her stating that a sun shines in the morning or getting up from a fall. It vanish the darkness likewise Angelou also came up and rise like a sun even hurdles and burdens endures her.

This poem embraces the themes that embody both the Afro-American experience such as racism and other racial discrimination which faced by African black peoples. She summons the pain and sufferings of her African ancestors and their lifelong domination called slavery. In this poem expresses her braveness to her oppressors that they can spread and write illegal matters about Angelou by using a bitter or threaded imaginary lies. They can also try to make her name fully spoiled, but this may not cause any problems to Angelou because considering these things as a dust she may rose till her last breath.

Then she asks the question to the white oppressors stating about her “sassiness” was upset their selves and is that made any confusions or gloominess on your decision? While the poet gives an authoritative rage on the one hand to discrimination and slavery, on the other she evokes a picture of hope that the flame God lit could never be extinguish by men. The poor and the downtrodden black will rise and fight for their liberty. You try to bring us down to dirt and we again fly like dust in the air. There is a light touch of revolt and a hard doze of disobedience in these lines. Angelou strongly believes that women are smart workers; they have the capacity of being a successful co-worker in various kinds of business arena.

This poem also states in a bold tone. Again Angelou asks a question to her oppressors that “what is it in me that make you hate me?” Is it my appeal or is it my nature? Even in hard times, we have learnt to smile. “Like oil wells pumping in our living room”. She felt richer than the richest because she is overflowing with this energy and they can feel depressed to see her happy unless they really love me. Their hatred gave her energy and does not stop her from rising. Then she examines the concern changes happened in the earth. Like moon and sun, uneven tides will change time to time but Angelou’s confidence of hope never having an end. She often used to say “Still I Rise”.

Angelou traces important authority, into an instrument of liberation. This verse is about to explain resilience and sassiness. The narrator used this theme throughout the poem. She boldly exposes her angriness to her oppressors asking them did they want to see her in a broken condition, or in a state of bowed head with lower eyes, shoulders falling down like tear drops and this may weakened her by emotional cries. For generations they had remained slaves, bowed their heads, fixed to their master’s will and obeying their orders without asking any question. White people would want them to remain so. They would like to see them all over again bowing their heads, weak in the soul. The poem, author speak of the determination in the hearts of the African Americans to fight against domination.The narrator asks if the people who want her and her people to remain slaves will not be hurt by her pride. Do not people really hate her free activities and the way she laugh over adversities? The Afro Americans laugh whole heartedly like no one is richer than them and they have got gold mines in their backyard.Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise is fairly a lot like a bird’s liberty song. Its journey makes you covetous but does not stop it from rising. While the poem is touching in tone and evokes rebellious feelings, it has a larger appeal that is everlasting.

The poem rebukes and scorns those who have required blacks as slaves and hits angrily but in the soft manner. The poet narrates that which stops a person from bowing before your oppressors. It is an absolute determination. If the oppressors want to destroy your honour by using abnormal words like insulting, or with their mighty eyes, or else with their hatefulness, but her potential of rising will spread like an air in all over the world. This poem is an inspiration for the modern generation people should gave them knowledge of colour. More over Their associates fought all the way through dreadful unsecure to make way for a beautiful tomorrow. We traces the history of pain, dishonour and sorrow, they have appear like a black ocean. With their sheer strength and will, they can turn the tide. However, bitter methods they can try, but Angelou will rise from all this sufferings.

Finally at the end of the poem Angelou concludes that, the existence of slavery was like a night with full of fear and gloominess. They made the past into a day of glory where liberty awaits them. This is a dream of the poet’s ancestors; liberty is the fruit they should gain for their struggles. The new generation with full of liberty was the finale of their dreams and will struggle harder than them to take their chase to reach heights. This rise is inevitable.

Apart from everything the poem exposes full of energy and inspires to lift our head against every immoral activities. Abhorrence and greediness cannot be banished but that will not stop us from the path of rising and fighting. The original beauty of the poem was lies in its simplicity. The hidden pain and the misfortune give a slight painful tone. However, this also injects more beauty to the poem. Like an inspirational speech ‘I have A Dream’ was given by Martin Luther King Jr, the repetition of ‘I rise’ in the poem lays importance on the dream of sharing the same proposal with whites and having a status of equality.


  • Still I Rise Poem by Angelou, Maya
16 August 2021
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now