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An Analysis Of The Way Dickens And Angelou Present The Coming Of Age An Search For Identity Of Pip And Maya In "Great Expectations" And "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings"

2780 words - 11 pages

Both these books are autobiographical and are based around the things encountered by the main characters on their journey from childhood to maturity. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" is non-fiction, and is based on the life of the author, Maya Angelou. It follows her story starts in the 1930`s and follows Maya from the age of three, until she is sixteen. "Great Expectations" is a fictional autobiography, with Pip, the main character followed from around 8, into his twenties. The book was written and based in the mid 1800`s.The overall structure of the two characters ascent to adulthood is slightly different. Both characters leave their childhood homes, but pips character later returns. This is used to illustrate the author's view of what it means to be "Grown up"I believe that both Maya Angelou and Dickens present maturity as an identification with your "roots". In this context, I believe that both books show the characters to have achieved maturity, to differing degrees.The opening of both books is highly significant to the tone and plot of the book. In the opening of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" Maya Angelou is placed in a humiliating situation- She has forgotten the words of the poem she is supposed to be reciting and is wearing what she sees as a "plain, ugly cut-down from a white woman's once-was-purple throwaway". The dress` description is a reflection of how Maya sees her self. The negative language - plain, ugly and subordinate to white women, is repeated throughout the book, particularly when the character is very young. This sets the book up to be a story of how Maya begins to respect and esteem herself as a goal for maturity."Great Expectations" opens on Pip in a graveyard, being accosted by an escaped convict. This scene paints Pip as a helpless child, with no defences, as the convict frightens and attacks him (his fear is shown by Pips stuttering as he addresses the convict). This is ironic, considering that the convict later becomes his benefactor. Dickens gives the convict a coarse, lower class accent by using colloquialisms such as "han`t" and "Who d`ye live with" .It contrast's sharply with Pips continued politeness (He calls the convict "sir" throughout), even though the characters have both come from poor, uncultured backgrounds. This shows that Pip is not a typical product of his upbringing. It also shows a great respect for status and the way things must be done, an important theme to impart to the audience, as Pip acquires status himself in order to escape being the bottom of the pile in his peers eyes- to be more than just a blacksmith, Perhaps as a reaction to the helplessness that this convict incident provokes in him. It is also interesting that Pip adopts a mode of speech so different from the Convict right from the beginning. It could be argued that even in the first scene, Pip does not want to be associated with the convict, making the revelation of the convict as his benefactor all the more upsetting.The books...

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