Sympathy by Paul Laurence Dunbar

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At a point in time in the life of every person, a feeling of being trapped or stuck occurs. The poem “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar represents the speaker’s vast knowledge of the feeling of being enclosed in a place where they are tremendously uncomfortable. The speaker explains the actions of a bird trapped in a small cage and explains the motives behind the actions. The speaker reveals that the song the caged bird sings is not a melody exuberating joy, but a cry begging for freedom. The title of the poem, “Sympathy”, represents the feeling that the speaker has toward a bird enclosed in a cage. The speaker relates to the bird by repeating the words “I know” and following them with an action of the bird, revealing that he has also experienced similar events that caused him to feel like the bird. He knows the pain of the small bird when nature is taking its beautiful course right outside of the window, but feeling the balmy sun on his face is impossible. The speaker uses a simile to compare the flowing river to a “stream of glass”, implanting in the mind of the reader an image ...
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