Still I Rise by Maya Angelou Literary Analysis Essay
For dust to rise, it must be unsettled from the ground in order for it to leave and rise, which represents Angelou’s overcoming of racism. Her oppressors are on the “ground” and because they have ‘unsettled’ her by treating her wrongly, she has decided to be strong which results in her rising above them all, challenging racism. The use of repetition is further exemplified when the poet repeats the words ‘I rise’ 5 times in the last stanza. This puts an emphasis on the theme of the poem, reminding the reader of what she was trying to express at the start, when she was comparing herself to rising dust from the ground.
To help strengthen the effect of repeating the word ‘rise’, Angelou also uses metaphoric imagery to express the hateful racism she received from others, as well as her determined attitude to stand up against it. In the extract, ‘you may shoot me with your words…,cut me with your eyes…,kill me with your hatefulness’, the poet uses words that gives connotations of extreme pain, danger and fear. She uses these words to express to the reader the deep pain she felt emotionally, by comparing it to physical pain.
For example, in the line ‘you may shoot me with your words,’ Angelou is comparing each hurtful word that people say, to a bullet being shot at her. The poet uses such effective vivid imagery to let us gain a better understanding of how it felt to be treated badly due to racism. This shows that words can be very powerful, especially when you use words in a hurtful manner, because it can scar someone forever like the scars of a bullet wound. Another use of a metaphor in the last stanza relates back to the key idea of the poem. In the line, ‘I am the dream and the hope of the slave,’ Maya Angelou is directly omparing herself to what a slave dreams about, which is equality and freedom. She is calling herself the ‘ambassador’ of equal rights, and therefore stating herself as a leader who will make the first step to rise up against racism and fight for equal rights. This again shows her strong, powerful approach to overcoming racial inequality. Lastly, the use of similes in the poem effectively conveys the key idea further. In the simile, ‘Just like moons and like suns…still I’ll rise’, the poet is comparing herself to the moon and the sun, which are two very powerful things.
The common phrase, ‘the sun will always rise tomorrow’ directly connects to this simile because by comparing herself to the sun, Angelou connotes to the reader she is certain that she will always ‘rise’ again tomorrow just like the sun, no matter what happens to her. By showing her determined and resilient attitude to not give in to oppressors through this simile, it strengthens the key idea of this poem. Further use of similes also helps to reveal Maya Angelou’s bold and powerful attitude, for example, when she says, “‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells pumping in my living room. By using this simile, she is expressing to the reader that she walks in a very proud manner. This shows us that she is proud of herself and is a person with pride. Maya Angelou uses poetic techniques in her poem to effectively express what she was trying to convey to the reader. She conveys to the audience her resilient, determined and strong attitude towards racism through similes, metaphors and repetition. Angelou’s poem inspires the audience to always be strong and be yourself, and never let things get in the way of how you want to live life.