Maya Angelou

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Analyze the imagery and sound effects in Maya Angelou's poem "Equality".

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In Maya Angelou's "Equality," imagery and sound are used to emphasize themes of perseverance and ignorance. The poem personifies equality, describing it as crying out against prejudice and marching forward defiantly. Negative imagery depicts equality as misunderstood, likened to a promiscuous woman by those who view it narrowly. Angelou also uses aural imagery, with drums symbolizing the unceasing, insistent march toward equality, highlighting its relentless nature.

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Maya Angelou's poem "Equality" is narrated by a personification of equality. Equality says to the reader, "confess you've heard me crying," which implies that there is a lot of prejudice and discrimination in the world. Equality proclaims, nonetheless, that it shall "keep on marching forward," proudly and defiantly.

In the third stanza of the poem, Angelou suggests that some people see Equality as a "wanton" woman, "fly[ing] from man to man." This image of Equality as a promiscuous woman suggests that some people have a derogatory attitude towards the idea of equality. The implication is that some people think that the idea of equality should only apply to some people but not others. In the second half of the stanza, Angelou suggests that the people who have this attitude only see Equality as "a shadow," and are, therefore, incapable of understanding what the idea of equality really means.

Later in the poem, Angelou says that people who don't understand what equality really means are wearing "blinkers" which impair their vision, and have "padding" in their ears to impair their hearing. These images emphasize the idea that those who don't understand equality are ignorant and unable to see or hear clearly.

In the first and seventh stanzas of the poem, Angelou uses the aural imagery of "drums" to imply that the march towards equality is, like the sound of a drum beat, constant, insistent and relentless. Indeed, these drums "beat ... nightly" and "the rhythms never change."

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