How does the figurative language in "Still I Rise" affect the poem's overall meaning?

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In the first stanza, the author uses figurative speech to illustrate oppression, and her response to it. 

You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

The image of someone being ground into the dirt is painfully evocative. It transmits a feeling of degradation and helplessness to the reader. However, the next line asserts that "like dust," she will rise. By using figurative language that is similar to the word used in the previous line, "dirt," the author seems to be showing herself transforming her situation by using the tools available to her. By comparing herself to something similar to the thing that oppressed her (dust being a component of dirt) she shows how she uses the oppression to become resilient. The use of the word "dust" also indicates how something generally considered dirty or useless can be used to rise above challenges and become stronger.

Here is another example of figurative language in "Still I Rise."

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

The following quote uses the same structure and type of figurative language as the former:

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

The metaphor of oil wells and gold mines are a perfect example of figurative language in this poem. Obviously, the author does not really have an "oil well" in her living room. However, the use of this type of language tells us that the author is feeling a carefree and ecstatic feeling. She does not care about the feelings of those who are offended or upset by her race. Angelou uses this type of language to tell us that she has inherent self-worth and confidence, as a response to the hate of others. She uses wealth symbols specifically to show how much she values these traits.


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