Maya Angelou’s poem deals with the harsh reality of African Americans. In “the free bird”, she describes what freedom is and, in “the caged bird”, the terrible realities being a segregating society in which one isn’t accepted.
In her juxtaposition of “the free bird” and “the caged bird”, Maya draws a distinction between what should be and what are for African-Americans Americans in a nation they consider their own.
Before we consider the caged bird figurative devices used in the poem, we need to look at the meaning of figurative devices.
Figurative devices refer to figures of speech that convey meanings beyond the literal sense. Figurative devices help add beauty to poetry, create better mental images, and aid emphasises.
Caged Bird Figurative Devices by Maya Angelou
Some of the Figurative devices used in the ‘Caged Bird’ by Maya Angelou are metaphor, personification, alliteration, repetition, symbolism, and irony.
Metaphor is used for indirect comparison. The use of metaphor is seen in the use of the words’ caged bird’ and ‘free bird’. The poet uses an extended form of metaphor to describe two types of people in the society, one the ‘free’ and the other ‘caged’. The ‘caged bird’ indirectly refers to the African American community and the ‘free bird’ to the white American society.
This figure of speech gives human attributes to inanimate objects. In lines 24 and 28, one can see the use of personification.
“…sighing trees” (line 24)
In the above line, the tree is given the attribute of sighing, when in the real sense, trees cant sign.
“…his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream” (line 28)
In the above line, shadows are said to shout, which is a human attribute.
This device refers to the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. The use of alliteration is shown in:
“But a bird” (line 8) b alliterates
“Seldom see” (line 10) s alliterates