Paul Laurence Dunbar Sympathy Analysis

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Analysis of “Sympathy” In the 20th century poem “Sympathy” Paul Laurence Dunbar uses imagery, irony, and repetition to develop the three shifting tones. In addition, he points out that without freedom individuals will feel trapped and wounded. Throughout stanza one, Dunbar uses rhyme, repetition, and imagery to convey a tone of innocence. Imagery of a bird singing and the first bud of flowers opening gives us a visual representation of pleasure and being born new, thereby, a feeling of innocence. In the repeating line “I know how the caged bird feels,” to emphasize the pleasure of freedom that the bird feels. Dunbar also uses an exclamation mark to make the reader feel excited and hopeful. Furthermore, the use of end rhyme supports the …show more content…

The images of “blood on cruel bars” and “pain throbbing on old scars” gives a feeling of darkness woundedness. The repetition of “beats his wings” continues to develop the tone of darkness. In addition, Dunbar shows the shift of freedom to the feelings of being trapped. The bird has no escape from his cage. Furthermore the end rhyme supports the foreboding tone and feelings of being trapped through the words “wing,” “cling,” “bars,” and “scars.” The diction emphasizes the trappedness the bird feels. The shift in tone from innocence to feeling trapped supports the overarching theme that without freedom individuals will feel trapped and wounded. The third stanza builds on irony, imagery, and repetition in order to further develop the theme. Again the tone shifts to a feeling of sorrow and mourning. The bird’s song is no longer a carol of joy but a prayer to “the heaven.” The only freedom he sees his through death. Furthermore, the repetition of “I know why the caged bird sings” supports the sorrowful mourning tone. The imagery of “he beats his bars” and his “wings are beat” portray the feelings of being trapped and wounded. Through these devices, Dunbar builds on the overall theme that without freedom individuals cannot sing their songs or feel joy. Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy” reveals how outside forces, like a metaphorical cage, can make an individual

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