Maya Angelou: The Strength of the Human Spirit

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In Maya Angelou’s third book of poetry And Still I Rise, the personal struggles of the African American Woman are brought to life through poetic works. With inspirations drawn from personal journeys of Maya Angelou herself, powerful poems praise, celebrate, and empathize with the feminine colored experience. Angelou’s writing sheds glaring light on themes of feminine power, beauty, and perseverance, raising the African American Woman to a pedestal that demands respect and adoration. For Angelou’s audience, the everyday woman is presented equipped with all the necessities to thrive and shine in the face of adversity. In Maya Angelou’s works “Phenomenal Woman”, “Woman Work”, and “Still I Rise”, audiences are able to connect to the strength and virtue of the woman that is brought to life through the praising of femininity, and through its power to make an impact on society.
In Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman”, audiences are drawn to the bold confidence and power of the female speaker. In this poem, Maya Angelou creates the image of a woman whose confidence is not hindered or threatened by imperfections and flaws. In many analyses of this work, audiences connect this poem to the expression of Maya Angelou’s individualism and self-love after having faced many personal struggles throughout her life. In a review found in the Virginia Quarterly Review, a critic states “Its theme [“Phenomenal Woman”]- the power and depth of women- echos her own personal history […]”. This theme of power is one that transcends this poem and is seen throughout many of Angelou’s works. Additionally, Angelou’s reflection on her own life through this poem is evident in the way in which she defines this power. Rather than emphasizing perfection and ideali...

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... all audiences can face their personal hardships. No matter the color of your skin or gender, Maya Angelou’s works are timeless testaments to the potential of the human spirit to overcome adversity, and constant reminders that even if the world is against us, we must still rise.

Works Cited

Angelou, Maya, Diego Rivera, and Linda Sunshine. Still I Rise. New York: Random House, 2001. Print.
Angelou, Maya, Paul Gauguin, and Linda Sunshine. "Phenomenal Women (Poem)." Phenomenal Woman. New York: Random House, 2000. N. pag. Print.
Angelou, Maya. "Still I Rise." Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.
Bender, L D. Readings on Maya Angelou. , 1997. Print
"Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database." What's New. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
"Maja." Maja RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.
"Still I Rise." - Analysis. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.
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