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Still I Rise by Maya Angelou is about determination to make good despite being oppressed or repressed. Line per line, the persona bares what the tormentor is doing to her, such as lying about the persona, being sad when the persona is happy, and communicating the expectation that the persona should not be acting happy on account of her past…
The persona appears to have a shameful as well as painful distant past as in "Out of the huts of history's shame I rise," and "Up from a past that's rooted in pain, I rise." But she is holding her head high now. What the poem seems to promise is a fighting mode of one who has been a "slave" for some time - perhaps according to how society saw her kind, and how society used to treat her kind - properly or improperly. Now, it should be different because I am back with revenge, the persona asserts. She is not going to take things as usual.
Readers at a disadvantage can relate with this poem: the women, the poor, the marginalized, the downtrodden, the colored people, those who have less in life, the labourer, the slaves, and whoever occupy a subordinate role in life. The poem can be said to offer music, rhythm, magic, mystery and beauty. It is a powerful and empowering anthem with a universal message of eternal optimism. The self-affirmation is admirable. This is an amazingly powerful poem. But not until you look closely into the finer points of the poem. This paper will look into the poem line per line and comment.
"You may trod me in the very dirt but still, like dust, I'll rise." Trod is past tense for tread and should be corrected to read "tread." "Sassiness" in "Does my sassiness upset you" either is not in uni ...
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