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Maya Angelous Phenomenal Woman - Book Report/Review Example

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Maya Angelous Phenomenal Woman

It does not matter how the world seeks to belittle or beat down the outsider; this person still overcomes the weight of the world and finds spiritual success. These poems illustrate the triumph of the marginalized individual in a world that would prefer for outsiders to remain quiet. Angelou will not remain quiet, and will not be shunted to the side because she fails to fulfill some preconceived notions about who she should be as a woman. In "Phenomenal Woman," Maya Angelou shows that beauty is in the heart and mind of the possessor, and that being phenomenal is a function of inner wisdom.
This poem is divided into four parts, with each stanza capped by the reaffirmation of the poem's persona's remarkable nature: "I'm a woman/Phenomenally./Phenomenal woman,/That's me." The first stanza discusses her relation to other women, the second introduces her dealings with men in groups, the third stanza highlights her relations with male admirers as individuals, and the final stanza expresses her relationship to the world, expressed through the use of the second person, as she addresses the reader as "you."
In every case, viewers know that there is something quite special about the phenomenal woman, but, given their limited worldview as dictated by current ideals of womanhood, they cannot understand what it is. Therefore, Angelou uses the chorus, repeating the words "phenomenon" and "woman," to establish that it is actually the natural expression of the feminine principle that becomes remarkable, especially because it is so rarely expressed as she expresses it. This may not be immediately apparent to the observer, who questions its cause (one meaning of the word "phenomenon"), but its veracity is nevertheless verifiable through many examples provided in each stanza.
The antecedent scenario of this poem can be understood as the experience of Maya Angelou and other women who do not fit into the narrow confines of conventional beauty, but have learned to love themselves and express true beauty despite the opinions of others. The poem's agency describes a strong woman, secure, confident, and desirable, despite her failure to conform. In fact, she succeeds due to her non-conformity, finding power in her differences and maintaining an upbeat attitude, which is demonstrated not only in the choice of words, but in the quirky, whimsical rhyme scheme and changing meter that unfurls like a popular song. The speaker is clearly a playful person, having fun with her phenomenal presence as well as the poem that reports on her method. However, the repetition of the "phenomenal woman" chorus as well as the four descriptions beginning with the words "It's in the," demonstrates the truth of her reasoning, which stands up to repeated scrutiny.
Angelou establishes her theme first with the poem's title, but then in the poem's first line: "Pretty women wonder where my secret lies." From this line we are to understand that there are two ways of looking at beauty. The poem's speaker clearly is beautiful; we can see this in later lines such as, "It's the fire in my eyes,/And the flash of my teeth,/The swing in my waist,/And the joy in my feet." However, she does not fit into the conventional, commercialized Western ideal of beauty. She's "not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size." In ...Show more


The poem "Phenomenal Woman," by Maya Angelou is a powerful statement about the possibilities inherent in being a woman with faith in herself. Angelou, one of the foremost living poets today, is known for her work with the themes of women's issues and the perspectives of those whose points of view are often silenced by mainstream society…
Author : jonatanbayer
Maya Angelous Phenomenal Woman essay example
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