Q: Analyse how the writer has used language features to reinforce an idea(s).
INTRO: Maya Angelou’s riveting poem ‘Caged Bird’ is a masterpiece that tells the plight of two extremely different birds in their extremely different situation. Throughout the poem Angelou uses language features such as verbs, metaphors and repetition amongst others to reinforce her idea of freedom vs restriction. Through this, readers learn timeless lessons about inequality, hope, and hopelessness, all of which serve to enhance the reading experience.
PARAGRAPH 1: Verbs were used throughout the novel to reinforce Angelou’s broader idea of freedom and restriction. When describing the tow different birds (caged and free), it can be seen that Angelou purposely uses vastly different kinds of verbs. While the movements of the free bird are described through lines such as “dares to claim the sky” and “dips his wings in the orange sun rays”, the caged bird on the other hand is described through lines such as “stalks down his narrow cage” and “his wings are clipped and his feet are tired”. As seen in these examples, there are vast differences in the connotations and implications of the verbs used to describe each bird. While the free bird’s verbs have very positive and active connotations, the caged birds has very negative and passive ones, implying the restrictedness of the caged bird and allowing the reader to imagine. This is used by Angelou to convey a sense of guilt amongst her readers. The use of the verbs allows her readers to compare themselves to the free and caged bird and realise that we can ‘dare’, ‘leap’ and ‘fly’ like free birds- we have the privilege to describe our lives with active and positive verbs. However, the contrast of the free bird and the caged bird (through the verbs) makes readers guilty at their freedom and privilege and forces them to think about the restricted and oppressed in the world. By doing this in the beginning of the text, Angelou not only instils her perceptions of the free and the restricted but it also allows her to take advantage of the guilt that she has placed on the readers to reinforce her ideas on the theme of freedom vs restrictions. In the context of when Angelou wrote this poem (the civil rights movement), we see not only through the poem being an allegory for the movement, but also through the verbs, we see the extreme restrictedness of black peoples in that era. Just like the caged bird, their plight could only be described through passive verbs: they could only ‘stalk’ and they were ‘clipped and tied’. To this, Angelou again makes the reader feel a sense of guilt. But through this sense of guilt, Angelou also alerts readers towards the plight of the opressed in our own time. Although we may not be able to break from our physical cages, our singing and hope has the power to break free from our spiritual cages. Where young Syrian children cannot even ‘leap’ towards a good future and education, where women in some...