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Maya Angelou American Literature Analysis
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In a significant incident, she reveals the ability to survive that her granddaughter will eventually develop herself.

Throughout this series of insults, Momma does not react to the girls and, instead, stands on the porch, smiling and humming a hymn. She was superior, and she had survived. She had also taught her granddaughter a lesson for all time. Most lessons, however, need to be learned and relearned, and so Angelou faces that uphill battle when, at the age of eight, she is displaced again, this time to be returned to her mother in St.

Whereas Stamps represents security and orderliness, St. Louis symbolizes its opposites. Confused and terrified by this act and the subsequent murder of Freeman—a murder that the child mistakenly thinks she has caused—Angelou becomes a voluntary mute and lives in a world of silence for nearly five years. She is healed by Bertha Flowers, a woman in Stamps, to which Maya returns. Flowers extends friendship to the mute Maya, a friendship that beckons the young girl to leave her self-imposed silence and embrace a new world of words, poems, songs, and a journal that chronicles this new stage in her life.

Moving to Oakland and then San Francisco in , at the age of thirteen, Maya rejoins her mother and deals with dislocation and displacement still again.

At this point in her life, however, she is maturing and learning that the role of victim, while still a role to which she is assigned, is also a role played by others—blacks and whites. She learns that the human challenge is to deal with, protest against, and rise above the trap of being victimized and exploited.

In the final scene of the novel, Angelou is not merely a young woman coming to this realization for herself; she is a young mother who has just borne a son and who is therefore struggling to see how she can be responsible not only for herself but also for another. The book ends with this sense of mutual responsibility and mutual survival: Mother and child know why the caged bird sings, and they will sing their song together.

In her fifth autobiography, Angelou relates her pilgrimage to Ghana, where she seeks to understand her African roots. The source of security, she comes to learn, is not in a place but within oneself. Angelou chooses to live in Ghana following the end of her marriage. Angelou joins a group of black Americans who have come to Ghana to be part of the great experiment. Angelou hopes that she and her son will find a land freed of the racial bigotry she has faced wherever she has lived or traveled.

Hopeful and idealistic, she sets herself up for disappointment and disillusion. During her three-year stay in Africa, she is not welcomed as she has expected to be; even more painful, she is frequently ignored by the very people with whom she thinks she shares roots, the Africans.

As she tries to understand this new kind of pain and homelessness, she also struggles with the sense of having two selves, an American self and an African self. A stunning example of this struggle occurs when the black American community in Ghana, together with some sympathetic Ghanaians, decides to support the August 27, , March on Washington—the march led by Martin Luther King, Jr.

The march does not have the impact its participants hope it will have because the demonstrators, including Angelou, are ambivalent about who they are, where they are, and where their quest for security is leading them. This ambivalence is dramatized when one of the marchers jeers a black soldier who is raising the American flag in front of the American embassy, prompting Angelou to reflect on the fact that the Stars and Stripes was the flag of the expatriates and, more important, their only flag.

The recognition of her divided self continues during the remainder of her stay in African, including during time spent with Malcolm X. Shortly after Freeman's murder, Angelou and her brother were sent back to their grandmother once again. Angelou credits a teacher and friend of her family, Mrs. Bertha Flowers, with helping her speak again. When Angelou was 14, she and her brother returned to live with her mother in Oakland, California.

Before graduating, she worked as the first Black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. Three weeks after completing school, at the age of 17, she gave birth to her son, Clyde, who also became a poet. Angelou's second autobiography, Gather Together in My Name, recounts her life from age 17 to 19 and "depicts a single mother's slide down the social ladder into poverty and crime.

She moved through a series of relationships, occupations, and cities as she attempted to raise her son without job training or advanced education. Adulthood and early career: In her third autobiography, Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, Angelou describes her three-year marriage to Greek electrician, former sailor, and aspiring musician Enistasious Tosh Angelos in , despite the condemnation of interracial relationships at the time and the disapproval of her mother.

She took modern dances classes during this time, and met dancers and choreographers Alvin Ailey and Ruth Beckford. Angelou and Ailey formed a dance team, calling themselves "Al and Rita", and performed Modern Dance at fraternal Black organizations throughout San Francisco, but never became successful. Angelou, her new husband, and son moved to New York City so that she could study African dance with Trinidadian dancer Pearl Primus, but they returned to San Francisco a year later.

After Angelou's marriage ended, she danced professionally in clubs around San Francisco, including the nightclub The Purple Onion, where she sang and danced calypso music.

Up to that point she went by the name of "Marguerite Johnson", or "Rita", but at the strong suggestion of her managers and supporters at The Purple Onion she changed her professional name to "Maya Angelou", a "distinctive name" that set her apart and captured the feel of her Calypso dance performances. During and Angelou toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess. She began her practice of trying to learn the language of every country she visited, and in a few years she gained proficiency in several languages.

In , riding on the popularity of calypso, Angelou recorded her first album, Miss Calypso, which was reissued as a CD in She appeared in an off-Broadway review that inspired the film Calypso Heat Wave, in which Angelou sang and performed her own compositions. Killens in , and at his urging, moved to New York to concentrate on her writing career. After meeting and hearing civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

According to scholar Lyman B. Hagen, her contributions to civil rights as a fundraiser and SCLC organizer were successful and "eminently effective". Angelou also began her pro-Castro and anti-apartheid activism during this time. Africa to Caged Bird: That year she met South African freedom fighter Vusumzi Make; they never officially married.

In her relationship with Make ended, and she and Guy moved to Accra, Ghana, he to attend college, where he was seriously injured in an automobile accident. Angelou remained in Accra for his recovery and ended up staying there until , later relating her experiences as an African American residing in Ghana in her fifth autobiography, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes. She became an administrator at the University of Ghana, and was active in the African-American expatriate community.

She performed in a revival of The Blacks in Geneva and Berlin. In Accra, she became close friends with Malcolm X during his visit in the early s. Writing about their relationship in her sixth and final autobiography A Song Flung Up to Heaven , Angelou said she returned to the U. Devastated and adrift, she joined her brother in Hawaii, where she resumed her singing career, and then moved back to Los Angeles to focus on her writing career. She worked as a market researcher in Watts and witnessed the riots in the summer of She acted in and wrote plays, and returned to New York in She met her life-long friend Rosa Guy and renewed her friendship with James Baldwin, whom she met in Paris in the s and called "my brother", during this time.

Her friend Jerry Purcell provided Angelou with a stipend to support her writing. In , Martin Luther King asked Angelou to organize a march. She agreed, but "postpones again", and in what Angelou's biographers call "a macabre twist of fate", he was assassinated on her 40th birthday April 4.

Devastated again, she was encouraged out of her depression by her friend James Baldwin. As her biographers state, "If was a year of great pain, loss, and sadness, it was also the year when America first witnessed the breadth and depth of Maya Angelou's spirit and creative genius".

Despite almost no experience, she wrote, produced, and narrated "Blacks, Blues, Black! Also in , inspired at a dinner party she attended with Baldwin, cartoonist Jules Feiffer, and his wife Judy, and challenged by Random House editor Robert Loomis, she wrote her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published in , which brought her international recognition and acclaim.

Angelou's Georgia, Georgia, produced by a Swedish film company and filmed in Sweden, the first screenplay written by a Black woman, was released in She also wrote the film's soundtrack, despite having very little additional input in the filming of the movie. In the next ten years, as her biographers stated, "She had accomplished more than many artists hope to achieve in a lifetime".

She worked as a composer, writing for singer Roberta Flack and composing movie scores. She wrote articles, short stories, TV scripts and documentaries, autobiographies and poetry, produced plays, and was named visiting professors of several colleges and universities. She was "a reluctant actor", and was nominated for a Tony Award in for her role in Look Away.

In Angelou appeared in a supporting role in the television mini-series Roots. She began being awarded with hundreds of awards and honorary degrees from colleges and universities from all over the world. In , Angelou and du Feu divorced. Her attempts at producing and directing films were frustrated throughout the 80s. She returned to the southern United States in , where she accepted the lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she taught a variety of subjects that reflected her interests, including philosophy, ethics, theology, science, theater, and writing.

Her recitation resulted in more fame and recognition for her previous works, and broadened her appeal "across racial, economic, and educational boundaries". The recording of the poem was awarded a Grammy Award. In June , she delivered what Richard Long called her "second 'public' poem", entitled "A Brave and Startling Truth", which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. Angelou finally achieved her goal of directing a feature film in , Down in the Delta, which featured actors such as Alfre Woodard and Wesley Snipes.

Since the s, Angelou has actively participated in the lecture circuit in a customized tour bus, something she continued into her eighties. In , she created a successful collection of products for Hallmark, including greeting cards and decorative household items. Over thirty years after Angelou began writing her life story, she completed the sixth and final autobiography in her series of six, A Song Flung Up to Heaven, in Angelou campaigned for Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party in the presidential primaries.

When Clinton's campaign ended, Angelou put her support behind Senator Barack Obama, who won the election and became the first African American president of the United States. She stated, "We are growing up beyond the idiocies of racism and sexism". In late , Angelou donated her personal papers and career memorabilia to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

They consisted of over boxes of documents that featured her handwritten notes on yellow legal pads for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a telegram from Coretta Scott King, fan mail, and personal and professional correspondence from colleagues such as her editor Robert Loomis.

Evidence suggests that Maya Angelou, who preferred to be called "Dr. Angelou" by people outside of her family and close friends, was partially descended from the Mende people of West Africa. Savin forced Lee to sign a false statement accusing another man of being the father of her child.

After indicting Savin for forcing Lee to commit perjury, and despite discovering that Savin was the father, a grand jury found him not guilty. Lee was sent to the Clinton County poorhouse in Missouri with her daughter, Marguerite Baxter, who became Angelou's grandmother. Angelou described Lee as "that poor little Black girl, physically and mentally bruised.

The details of Angelou's life described in her six autobiographies and in numerous interviews, speeches, and articles tend to be inconsistent. Her biographer, Mary Jane Lupton, has explained that when Angelou has spoken about her life, she has done so eloquently but informally and "with no time chart in front of her".

For example, she has been married at least twice, but has never clarified the number of times she has been married, "for fear of sounding frivolous". According to her autobiographies and her biographers, she married Tosh Angelos in and Paul du Feu in , and began her relationship with Vusumzi Make in , but never formally married him.

Angelou has one son Guy, whose birth was described in her first autobiography, one grandson, and two young great-grandchildren, and according to her biographers, a large group of friends and extended family. In , the mother of her son Guy's child disappeared with him; it took eight years to find Angelou's grandson. As of , Angelou owned two homes in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and one in Harlem, full of her "growing library" of books she has collected throughout her life, artwork collected over the span of many decades, and well-stocked kitchens.

According to her biographers, she hosted several celebrations per year at her main residence in Winston-Salem, including Thanksgiving; "her skill in the kitchen is the stuff of legend—from haute cuisine to down-home comfort food". She combined her cooking and writing skills in her book Hallelujah! The Welcome Table, which featured recipes she learned from her grandmother and mother, along with stories that preceded each recipe.

She would wake early in the morning and check into a hotel room, where the staff was instructed to remove any pictures from the walls. She would write on legal pads while lying on the bed, with only a bottle of sherry, a deck of cards to playsolitaire, Roget's Thesaurus, and the Bible, and would leave by the early afternoon. She would average 10—12 pages of written material a day, which she edited down to three or four pages in the evening.

Angelou went through this process to "enchant" herself, and as she has said in a interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation, "relive the agony, the anguish, the Sturm und Drang.

When the day finally arrives, her dreams and expectations are shadowed by the speech that Mr. Donleavy, a white man, gave to the graduating class of At the end of the story we see how the class valedictorian, Henry Reed comes back with encouraging words that help the entire audience become alive and feel like they were on top again. Maya Angelou used a very important literary.

Tone is the attitude the speaker has towards themselves, their subjects, and their audience. In this case the speaker in this story is the young black girl. In the beginning of the story the black girl speaks with pride and self-confidence. In the middle of the story we see the girl angry and disappointed at the outcome of her graduation. As I described in the introduction, Mr. Donleavy addressed her graduating class with continuous remarks about the white class.

The accomplishments was nothing.


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"Phenomenal Woman" written by Maya Angelou is a poem that every woman can relate to. Angelou explains how she is a confident woman throughout each stanza. Harold Bloom states that "In this Hymn-like poem to women's beauty, the self-confident speaker reveals her attributes as a phenomenal woman".

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The works of Maya Angelou encompass autobiography, plays, poetic, and television producer. She also had an active directing, acting, and speaking career. She is best known for her books, including her series of seven autobiographies, starting with the critically acclaimed I Know Why the .

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- This seminar paper will look at a poem written by Maya Angelou, Still I rise, An analysis of this poem will be provided, exploring the meaning of the poem and the language used to present a certain image to the audience. “Dr. What is a summary of the poem "On Aging" by Maya Angelou? Maya Angelou represents not only the black woman but any woman who desires a better life. As the first black American woman to speak at .

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Maya Angelou - Research Paper. 9 Pages Words December Saved essays Save your essays here so you can locate them quickly! Maya Angelou, an African American poet, wrote the poem "Africa" about the tragic events held by the European men who invaded Africa. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers. You can view samples of our professional work here. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this.