Double-Consciousness in Audre Lorde’s Coal Essay

Double-Consciousness in Audre Lorde’s Coal Essay

Length: 1639 words (4.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Double-Consciousness in Audre Lorde’s “Coal”

There is a double-consciousness, according to W.E Burghardt Du Bois, in which we view ourselves through a veil. Underneath of this veil is the true self. The person that we are in our purest state. The veil itself, however, is how society sees us and our realization of that projection. Looking in a mirror, both layers can be seen. However, the true self is still covered, muddled, unclear beneath the sheer outer shell of expectation. In her poem “Coal”, Audre Lorde alludes to this concept through the dual image of a piece of coal and a diamond. As a black woman, Lorde only transforms from coal to diamond when she embraces her blackness as coal and, ironically, rejects the societal pressure to conform by speaking her words and embracing that she is black and coal.

In the beginning, Lorde equates herself with a piece of coal. She says that she is “the total black”(2068). As a piece of coal, she is black both inside and out. Being outwardly black, she may still be oppressed by the society around her, her identity being engulfed by the world. In the state of coal, she is merely “being spoken from the earth’s inside”(2068). Words would be stifled by the surrounding layers of dirt that engulf her.

As coal, Lorde is susceptible to the double-consciousness described by Dubois. The poem begins with an “I”, and continues in the second line to say “is the total black”(2068). She separates herself from the total black here, indicating that her true self is not necessarily within that “total black”(2068). She also separates herself from the bad grammar associated with illiteracy that characterizes many black communities. The total black, is not Lorde herself, but in fact,...

... middle of paper ...

...ry occurs when Lorde says “At this point in time, I believe that women carry within ourselves the possibility for fusion of these two approaches so necessary for survival, and we come closest to this combination in our poetry” (Lorde 2210).

Thus, through further exploration of Lorde as a person, new insight is given to the poem “Coal”. The poem also inadvertently raises questions about other poems when upheld as an example for comparison to elucidate Lorde’s feelings about double-consciousness. This greater understanding and discourse on the subject of double-consciousness is vital to understanding the poem “Coal” because it is vital to the identity of Audre Lorde as a person. Since her writing is almost exclusively and scrutinizingly about herself, learning about the broader topics and events in Lorde’s life are intrinsic to the specific poem of “Coal”.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Double Theory Of Double Consciousness

- 1) Double Consciousness- Double consciousness applies to how Clare Kendry views herself. She is trying to fit in to the white community by acting white and going along with her husband’s resentment of black people, but at the same time she wants to be a part of the black community again. He husband states “I don’t dislike them. I hate them. And so does Nig for all she is trying to turn into one” (page 69). This is possibly the best representation of Clare. She wants to be part of the black community, but she also acts like or really does hate that it is a part of her, which is why she has tried so hard to become white....   [tags: White people, Black people, Racism, Race]

Powerful Essays
1578 words (4.5 pages)

Double Consciousness Is It Good Or Bad? Essay

- DOUBLE CONSCIOUSNESS What is double consciousness. Is it good or is it bad. Does it affect us or the people around us. What kind of impact does it have. Double consciousness is when you are an individual from a society and you adapt to that while growing up with another society’s culture simultaneously. The identity is divided into a few levels. For example, how you act when you are alone or with your own and the way you act outside or in larger groups. Most of America continues to live double consciousness because it has many diverse societies and cultures within the “American” culture....   [tags: Slavery, Slavery in the United States]

Powerful Essays
1303 words (3.7 pages)

Analysis Of Lorde 's Writing And Journal Entries Essay examples

- Following this event, we see a critical shift in Lorde’s writing and journal entries. Lorde contends “the emphasis upon the cosmetic after surgery reinforces society’s stereotype of women, that we are only what we look or appear, so this is the only aspect of our existence we need to address” (58). Women not only should be afforded prosthesis as a choice rather than requirement, the “ability to act [upon this choice] in public the public domain” is the right to her own story (Heilbrun 17). Considering the previous self-prescribed labels Lorde gave herself, one can envision her unwillingness to confirm to this particular societal pressure....   [tags: Woman, Gender, Gender role, Audre Lorde]

Powerful Essays
827 words (2.4 pages)

Double Consciousness and the American Narrative Essay

- The American Narrative includes a number of incidents throughout American history, which have shaped the nation into what it is today. One of the significant issues that emerged was slavery, and the consequent emancipation of the slaves, which brought much confusion regarding the identification of these new citizens and whether they fit into the American Narrative as it stood. In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B Dubois introduces the concept of double consciousness as “the sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others” (Dubois 3)....   [tags: African American identity]

Powerful Essays
1077 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on The Contradiction Of Double Consciousness

- several projects. The contradiction of Double consciousness, leaves him feeling unfulfilled. He struggles to cope with the two identities, husband and employee. However he works to defeat this double conscious feeling by working with his service officer. He negotiates flexible working hours so he is able to fulfill his role in the company and his role as a husband without the two conflicting. The two concepts are perhaps the most powerful writing of the sheer burden of African-American in our society....   [tags: African American, Race, Racism, W. E. B. Du Bois]

Powerful Essays
742 words (2.1 pages)

The Double Consciousness Of A Black American Essay

- Introduction Sprouted from slavery, the African American culture struggled to ground itself steadily into the American soils over the course of centuries. Imprisoned and transported to the New World, the African slaves suffered various physical afflictions, mental distress and social discrimination from their owners; their descendants confronted comparable predicaments from the society. The disparity in the treatment towards the African slaves forged their role as outliers of society, thus shaping a dual identity within the African American culture....   [tags: Slavery, Black people, Afro-Latin American]

Powerful Essays
1100 words (3.1 pages)

The Awakening Of Double Consciousness Essays

- Self awareness of a person’s identity can lead to a challenging scope of ascertaining moving forward: the moment he/she has an earth- shattering revelation comprehending, they of African descendant and they are a problem. The awakening of double-consciousness grew within the literary cannon sensing the pressure of duality in the works of Native Son and The Bluest Eye, Richard Wright and Toni Morrison respectively create two characters who deal with this struggle. It is illustrated through both text how society creates situations that impose the characters Bigger and Pecola encountering extreme measures in the mind frame of double consciousness in their pursuit of survival physically, the sea...   [tags: Black people, African American, White people]

Powerful Essays
1279 words (3.7 pages)

Double Consciousness in Immigration Essays

- I can recall many instances where “double consciousness” (female and person of colour) was a factor in the discrimination I experienced. I remember the first time I became aware of my location in Toronto. I was in grade school and a boy called me a “nigger”. The teacher heard and told him to apologize, as it was not a nice thing to say. He unwillingly apologized and that was the end of it. He was not properly reprimanded, his parents were not informed of the incident and neither was mine. Similarly, I did not tell my mother because I was confident she would have spoken to the teacher and I was embarrassed1....   [tags: Color, Sex, Status]

Powerful Essays
1003 words (2.9 pages)

Coal Fires Essay

- Coal Fires I’ve long been familiar with the concept of coal mines, but a common occurrence I was unfamiliar with previous to this class was the concept of coal mine fires, but it is a huge problem, both economically and environmentally. Perhaps the most infamous American example of a coal mine fire is Centralia, a town in the anthracite region of eastern Pennsylvania. Centralia was like any other coal town until one fateful day in 1962, when a heap of burning trash in a dump that doubled as a mine stripping pit quickly spread to other parts of the mine....   [tags: Fire Coal Mining Essays]

Free Essays
718 words (2.1 pages)

Coal Essay

- Coal Coal, a product of decay from plants older than 350 million years, is an integral part of energy production in the United States. Coal provides 56.9% of electricity generation in the United States.[1] With many different types of coal found in different states, the U.S. remains second to Russia in the number of estimated worldwide coal reserves.[2] Between the years of 1885-1950, coal was the most important fuel. One half ton of coal produced as much energy as two tons of wood and at half the cost.[3] Even today, there is, on a Btu basis, about one hundred times as much energy in the coal reserves of the United States as there is in either the oil or natural gas reserves.[4]...   [tags: Coal Environment Economy Economics Essays]

Free Essays
654 words (1.9 pages)