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The poem "Phenomenal Woman" by Maya Angelou is about the self confidence of a woman who likes they way she is. "The word "phenomenally," means remarkably, extraordinarily, exceedingly ( Bloom 1). "In her poetry Angelou often focuses on the oppression of African Americans, including some that the media love to demonize: welfare mothers, prostitutes, and drug pushers" (Sienkewicz 1). As an African American, they did not have many rights and it was a difficult time to live in. Most of Angelou's writings consist of her experience of what being an African American was like through such a hard time. Also, her poems reflect southern slave experience of her ancestors and the southern slave plantation, which can be the reason why Maya Angelou has such pride and confidence in her writings. "Phenomenal Woman" written by Maya Angelou expresses the importance of confidence through the use of tone, imagery, point of view and symbolism.
In Maya Angelou's poem, the tone is confident. In the poem the readers can tell that Maya Angelou is confident about the way she looks and the person she is through the inside out. Although some people may think the author is conceded because she seems to talk about her self but she is not because in the beginning of the poem Maya Angelou says, "I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size" (Line 2). Another example would be, "Its refrain--"I'm a woman / Phenomenally. / Phenomenal woman, / That's me"--is made for Angelou's richly textured, dramatic voice" (Virginia Quarterly Review 1). Readers can hear the stress, confidence and pride Angelou puts on her words. Maya Angelou also has pride in herself and her writings, the readers can tell by reading her work. Angelou's pride and self confidence come from her childhood and what grew up around. She is proud to be an African American and is not afraid to show it, which she does show it in several pieces of her work. Angelou's tone in this poem helps support the theme of the poem but so does imagery.
Another literary element that helps provide support of the theme is imagery the poem uses. Throughout the poem, readers can imagine most of what Maya Angelou is saying. For instance, "They swarm around me, A hive of honey bees" (19-20). From that line, readers can clearly picture honey bees surrounding a hive. Also from that line, she was comparing honey bees to men, saying that the men were surrounding her like honey bees would a hive. Imagery is a good figurative language to use especially in poetry. Using imagery can provide the readers visual pictures in their heads that can help the readers better understand the work. While imagery can help the readers connect visually, the author's point of view is also an important literary element that Angelou uses in her poem which helps support the theme.
Also, to help prove the theme, the authors point of view which is told in first person can help provide support. The poem is of course told in first person because Maya Angelou uses I, me, my, and I'm in this work "Phenomenal Woman". Because she uses first person in the poem can let the readers know that the poem is about her. In the beginning of the poem, she speaks as if she does not have much confidence in herself then she starts to sound more confident with herself as the poem goes on. She starts off the poem mentioning something negative about herself then she goes on to have more pride in herself and who she is as a person which is also a part of self confidence.
Finally, symbolism can also help support the theme of the poem. Symbolism helps the readers connect the characters to an object. For example, in the poem, the honey bee hive can symbolize Maya Angelou because in the poem the men swarm around her figuratively like honey bees would an actual honey bee hive. Just from that use of symbolism, readers can tell Maya Angelou is confident in the way she looks as a person. Although all the literary elements listened provide the theme support people may argue otherwise.
Some people might argue that the tone, imagery or point of view does not prove the theme of the poem. Some may say that the tone sounds more conceded then confidence because she talks about herself but in the beginning of the poem, she does mention that she is not cute or suit to fit a fashion models size which is not being conceded. Also, that the imagery has nothing to do with the theme because it is something you can picture and not prove but the images the readers get from the use of imagery can help the readers get a better understanding of the work. Some might say that the author's point of view has nothing to do with the theme of the poem because the author is the one telling the poem but the author's point of view can actually provide the readers with a lot more information than some people might gather. Last but not least, some people might argue that symbolism does not provide support to the theme because symbolism does not have an effect on the readers but symbolism can help the readers connect the character or characters to an object which can help the readers have a better understanding of the poem. Everyone every now and then will have something to say about author's pieces of work but everyone is entitled to their own opinion whether it has influence on other people or not.
All in all, the theme of the poem is supported with information by using tone, imagery, the author's point of view and symbolism. In Angelou's writings, the readers can tell she clearly defines herself as a woman and an African American who has self confidence and is not ashamed to show it. Confidence is important for everyone to have. It allows a person to feel good about themselves although there are other ways about doing so. If people were to not have confidence then they may have negative thoughts which can sometimes lead to drastic measure. Having confidence can make a person stronger emotionally. Confidence can help a person out in so many different ways, which is why it is important to have confidence.