Compare Maya Angelou’s poem “Caged Bird” with ways in which Edna is described as a caged bird in the Créole community. Does she differ in any way from the bird?
In my essay, I will explore the ways in which Edna Ponteiller is presented as an imprisoned woman by the Creole community just like the caged bird presented in Maya Angelou’s poem Caged bird. I will also examine whether Edna differs in any way from the bird.
Maya Angelou and Kate Chopin are well known writers and feminists. They both have played an impactful role in the feminist movement during the 1900s. These robust and powerful women had expressed the hardships a woman had to go through in patriarchal and racist societies. Whether it is The awakening or Caged bird there is portrayal of an unfair system where one has the freedom and liberty and other doesn’t. Edna being the prisoner of the Creole is nothing less than the Caged bird portrayed in the poem.
The caged bird presented in Maya Angelou’s poem is a sheer reflection of Edna who serves to be a microcosm of all the entrapped Victorian women in general. “But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage”. A caged bird who is constrained and denied freedom is depicted in this line which is very parallel to the Creole culture of narrowing women’s lives to their homes and families with nothing beyond that. “Creole women were expected to worship their husbands and idolize their children.” In such a society where women are only considered to be fit for the role as a mother and a wife makes the Kentucky born Edna nothing more than the caged bird with clipped wings.
“…his bars of rage, his wings are clipped and his feet are tied”, the bars of the cage symbolize the barrier for the bird identical to how the Creole culture acts a barricade to Edna. “…it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels”. Like the bird, Edna’s movement is limited by the social norms of the Creole culture such as being expected to stay home as idle decorative symbols of their husband’s wealth. Though Edna is presented as an angel with wings she can only use them to protect and shield but not to fly.
The theme of injustice and unfairness is injected by the vast comparison between the “free bird” and the” caged bird”. “A free bird leaps on the back of the wind and flows downstream…” whereas “…a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams” emphasizing that a free bird is unstoppable and a caged bird is always halted. This discrimination is alike to the contrast in the privileges of Mr. Ponteiller vs Edna’s. The Creole women have to follow their husband and must obey all of the rules that do not give them much opportunity to be independent. For instance, the creole culture states that a man can do any job of preference whereas women could only get a job as factory workers that too with a lower wage. Such heavy discrimination of women makes Edna nothing but a...