The poem Caged Bird by Maya Angelou happens to be the first poem listed as the set poem for Cambridge O Level Literature in English 2010 syllabus for 2020 and 2021, Paper 1. This poem can be found in Songs of Ourselves Volume 1, Part 3.
The world that we breathe in today has had many contrasting firsts: the world has constitutionally bid adieu to apartheid , yet has chosen leaders who would like to build ‘ huge ‘ ‘walls’. We have had gross injustice meted out to people lower in the power hierarchy and yet, there are ubiquitous campaigns like # metoo that would hold no bar to name the corrupted tools of power.
Hence, a teacher of Caged Bird in this day and age does not have to talk about merely the social pressures on the African-Americans and the Civil Rights Movement of 1966: the canvas and the ‘sky ‘ for the discussion and several simultaneous interpretations is unimaginably expansive.
I hope this student worksheet will help identify the language features of this fantastic poem by Maya Angelou. This worksheet has been designed to trace the poem from the first impression right through the form and structure while leading to the post reflective thematic analysis. The exam style questions in the end could be tackled as in-class or home assignments to prepare for the assessment.
Student Worksheet Caged Bird by Maya Angelou
I thought I’d paste a little taste of Trump here for students to look over. we spend so many hours teaching students to write with clarity and to structure and organise… and then this: TRUMP: We stopped giving them because we were getting quite a bit of inaccurate news, but I do have to say […]
via A taste of Trump… — English teaching resources
It will be a fearless, mindless, spineless lie if I say I have never missed being with my rags and riches .
For ages, some conflicting emotions gave many a sleepless nights, when I found my throat parched, my soul weary and my eyes watery.
The fact that I had left an integral, vital ,incredible part of my life in a yonder-land was far from my threshold of acceptance. I was ready to deny access to any thought that might occur-just-by-the-way , when I was a different person.
A had been , merely.
Do I identify myself in the mirror which reflects an opportunist , who sold her soul to gain some pieces of bread? Ahh, the BREAD! The survivor’s only excuse to kill for the sustenance of the body.
But what about the soul, which needs to be clothed in fancy even if the body is thread-bare? I do wear my attire , that fits snugly and nicely. I live in a suburban delight of a maintained abode. The neighborhood is no short of a spectacle of a serene heavenly abode.
Yet…ah, the all so consuming yet,..
The bygone places and the kindred souls to dwell upon , shall never be WON AGAIN, as there is still a lot that DWELLS UPON ME !
Deconstruction of the Questions
Words from Question
What You Have to Do
|Explore the ways in which Catherine Linton and Hareton are presented in this extract.
||The instruction in this passage-based question is to ‘explore’, or to examine in detail. There is no requirement to move outside the extract. The focus is on how two characters are presented by the novelist in the given circumstances.Make sure you present the location and the brief summary of events leading to this moment, in no more than 50 words.
|What makes this such an exciting moment inthe novel?
||This passage-based question relates to a scene from Wuthering Heights and ‘this’ refers to the passage. The main focus of any response should be on the detail of the passage itself: how does the writer make the moment an exciting one? The phrase ‘moment in the novel’ indicates that some consideration needs to be given to the episode’s significance in the overallnovel. But the main concern remains to analyze the detail of the passage.
|In what ways do you think the poet makesvivid the power of her emotions in Browning’s Sonnet 43
||This question includes the phrase ‘do you think’ as a reminder to you to give your own response to the poem. The main focus of the question is on the‘ways’ in which the poet ‘makes’ her topic ‘vivid’. A really good response will show how she uses language, structure and form to achieve her effects.
|How does Bronte make Heathcliff’s revenge seem seem so just/unjust?
||The focus on the writing is clear from theopening ‘How does Bronte make…?’So a clear examination of events leading to Heathcliff emerging as a vindictive character is required.
|What makes Julius Caesar have such a dramatically compelling plot?
||The focus on the form (drama) is made clear in the phrase ‘dramatically compelling’. How does the playwright employ various dramatic devices ( such as earlier onset of conflict, fickleness of mob, dramatic irony, soliloquy) ? What is the likely effect on the Elizabethan audience?What do you think?
|To what extent does/ does not Bronte make yousympathise with Heathcliff?
||The question requires you to explore the methods used by Bronte in presenting this character.The opening ‘To what extent’ might lead to answers which find an interpretaion that is very sympathetic, not sympathetic at all, or both at different points in the novel. The best approach here would be to sift the evidence very carefully before coming to a settled view.The best apprach could be a chronological evaluation of events leading to the state of Heathcliff , as we see him in the first chapter of the novel.
|Both a hero and a kind of villain.How far do you agree with this view ofHeathcliff?
||The ‘How far do you agree?’ opening to this question is an invitation for you to consider in detail the evidence for both parts of the prompt – ‘hero’ and ‘kind of villain’ –before reaching your final verdict.Remember to adopt either an Argumentative stance or a discursive one. If you feel your response seriously inclined towards ‘ a villian’, do mention the counter arugument with a ‘ However’.
|You are Joseph /Hastings / Buckingham / Isabella…Write your thoughts.
||Empathic question: You have to write as if the character at the time specified in the question. You must root your answer clearly in the world of the play and not stray too far from it. You must write in a voice that is clearly recognizable for the character.
Some Samples to be Employed:
Question: How does the playwright/ writer makes this extract a significant moment of the play/novel?
- Plot(locate the extract and say who is on stage / or present if the passage is from the novel)This short sequence/ extract ( not a complete scene ) is a part of a ………… between x and y. A , b and c ‘s presence demonstrates ….( give a little summary here in one sentence of what this scene is about)
- One of the play/ novel’s main concerns is the contrast between the ————-
- From this scene we can have clear glimpse of—-
Characterization ( evaluate the characters on the basis of the information provided /language used by the characters/ other people or the narrator/ or what the characters seems to be doing here )
- Hastings is an intriguing character who—-
- His misinterpretations of every warning sustain the grim irony that characterizes the play
- Like Clarence , he realizes too late that he has relied on earthly success rather than God’s grace.
- this is a highly dramatic passage which starts at the peak of-and the two protagonists are seen—-.
- Emotions run high throughout the quoted text.
- Following this extract——.this action prefigures —–the destructive / violent forces/ supernatural element/ poetic justice—–
- This dramatic scene creates suspense in the audience because they expect the —-
- This brief scene has been packed in action, description and atmosphere very effectively
Features of Language:
- the tension/conflict/row has been expressed in repetitive language with many exclamations, rhetorical questions and unfinished sentences ( for eg…)
- this verse scene is armed with powerful poetic devices ….which suit the intensity and gravity of the situation.
- Bronte captures very effectively the tine and atmosphere of…
- The women of the play use formal ritualistic language and emphasize the …
- Repeated words emphasize themes powerfully as well as creating the …. Mood .
- ————-,——————,—————— and ————- all chime /sound repetitively , reinforcing the point.——————.
- Richard’s soliloquy reveals his delight in language and wordplay. He presents the contrasting elements of……
- His/ her mocking tone is reflected in…
- He/she puns on….
- She / he is determined to prove—— as they say——-
- Heathcliff’s vocabulary could b contrasted with Lockwood’s as —–
- Linton’s s choice of words is naïve…
- Catherine frequently uses words that suggest…..
- This soliloquy quickly establishes—
- His double edged words—–