Analyze Poetry: The Phenomenal Woman by Angelou Maya

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University of Richmond
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In her work, The Phenomenal Woman, Angelou Maya uses various stylistic devices such as imagery, hyperbole, and alliteration to present different themes in life. She captures the theme of pessimism, optimism and the ideal interactions of humans (Angelou 8). Her work also captures social justices and ethics in the society together with the ironies of living, struggles and interpersonal relationships.

Firstly, as a woman, Angelou faces social injustices in the society. The irony in the poem shows that Angelou was residing in a society that was somehow hostile to her and less receptive of her character and looks. This is presented in the second stanza where she ironically states that she commands men in a crowd. This shows that despite the gender disparity in the society women can survive and fight for their social justice. There is little justice for the seeming minority in the society (Angelou 8). The society is divided along gender and other classes and oppresses others that seem weak. However, Angelou manages to fight off the stigmatization and convinces herself that everything is right. She describes how she lives her life to her satisfaction making the other women wonder. Angelou helps other women to fight for their position in the society and know that they are equal with men. They should not be cowed to deal with men and instead challenge them.

The phenomenal woman displays the irony of living and struggling to make it better as coping with the challenges of life. In the first stanza, Angelou states that Pretty women wonder... where her strength to overcome the life challenges comes from. This shows that there are common challenges faced in the society and women are affected more. However, Angelou has managed to overcome them making the other women wonder with her strength. Ironically she seems to do well and hides her struggles (Angelou 9). She understands well that people need to appreciate what they have by her acknowledgment of her body, face, hips, strides, and feet together with other body features. She inspires other people to fight on and appreciate their possessions too despite the struggles and challenges.

Angelou clearly demonstrates the difference between pessimism and being optimistic together with desirable human interactions. Despite the struggles that everyone and especially the women are facing in the society, she is still very confident and optimistic (Angelou 9). She also undergoes these challenges but manages to keep her hope and optimism. In the last stanza, she states that she still keeps her head straight and now bowed due to the pressures. A majority of those around her are pessimistic and plunge to the societal pressures and disillusionment. She inspires these people through to be optimistic and know that their strengths lie within them.

Dealing with other people is a complex affair. Many people suffer due to complicated interpersonal relationships in the society. Angelou is suffering due to negative stereotypes mostly from the men. In the second stanza, she narrates that men stare at her and even stand when they see her. This is quite mocking and the men mean to torment her (Angelou 8). She, however, manages to ironically convince the reader of the poem that she is doing well in her relationship with others. From her brief narration, it is evident that interpersonal relationships are complex but one should deal with others in the best way possible.

Work Cited

Angelou, Maya. Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women. New York: Random House, 1994.


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