Paul Laurence Dunbar Sympathy Themes

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Hope, Rage, and Sacrifice
Oppression is an illness that has plagued the world for centuries. This is shown in “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar and “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou as the birds are trapped by oppression and the birds must break free from it. Maya Angelou and Paul Laurence Dunbar use the central symbols of the free bird and the caged bird to reveal the theme of oppression. The symbols of rage and hope accompany the theme oppression.
Hope is the main reason that the caged bird finds the strength to fight the engulfing oppression it was facing. For example, the character of the bird in, “Caged Bird” sings, hoping that his plea of freedom is heard by others, so that he can be free from the oppression that is binding him. The bird’s …show more content…

For instance, when the bird from “Sympathy” has hope that someone will hear its prayer that he has sent to Heaven. The prayer is described by Dunbar as, “It is not a carol of joy of glee,/ But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,/ But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings-” (Dunbar 18-20). The bird is representing the hope that it feels as it is singing with such passion, thinking and almost knowing that someone will hear it. The bird is hopeful to escape the brutality that is holding it. The oppression is binding the bird to its cage while the bird hopes and prays that someone will hear him so that he can leave this maiming tyranny. In addition in “Caged Bird” the bird is singing with mighty voice that was conceived by the rage that the bird felt toward the oppression that was trapping it. The tune that the bird sings is described as, “The caged bird sings,/ with a fearful trill,/ of things unknown”(Angelou, 30-32). The bird is illustrating the anger that it felt, by fighting the tyranny that he is facing. The tyranny is holding him down and the rage that the bird feels from this pain is what the bird symbolizes. All in all the bird representing hope and anger reveals the theme of oppression. In the final analysis, the symbols of hope and rage accompany the symbols of freedom and caged bird revealing the theme of oppression in the both of the poems. “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar and “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou shows how the bird injures itself, sings a in despair, and is able to fight the oppression that has trapped it. Oppression is not only a trap for one but torture for

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