The “” written by Maya Angelou is a poem thatbegins with an attack on the issue of stereotypes. The phenomenalwoman has been described as an individual who is successful despitethe lack of attractive features of a woman such as an admirable bodyfigure and a cute face. The focus of the analysis will be on thetheme of the irony of living with, struggling with, or triumphantsuccess coping with life`s travails and the pursuit of, therealization of, or failure to obtain people`s hopes and dreams. MayaAngelou successfully brings out the aspect of a phenomenal woman andher ability to achieve her aspirations despite the lack of femininequalities.
The irony of living with, struggling with, or triumphant successcoping with life`s travails
The first stanza of the poem “” is a confessionof a woman on her success despite the fact that she has no attractiveattributes that make her feminine. The poem describes the traits ofwomanliness, but that is not a hindrance to her success. For example,she states
“I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size”(Angelou)
Regardless of the same, she commands respect. It is ironical that inan ideal society, a woman who is attractive has a higher potential ofgetting favors and attention compared to the less attractive one. Thelack of beauty has seen many women struggle with personality issuesand self-acceptance. However, in the poem, it is ironical that theunattractive nature of the women makes her stand out as beingphenomenal. She states
“I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees” (Angelou)
The pursuit of, realization of, or failure to obtain people`shopes and dreams
Maya Angelou efficiently illustrates the theme of the pursuit of, therealization of, or failure to obtain people`s hopes and dreams, inher poem the “.” Women have always been inpursuit of success and the realization of the potential of doing so.However, in the process of realizing their aspirations, most of themfail to achieve their hopes and dreams. The failure to do so can beattributed to the perception that women have to themselves. Forexample, the unattractive ones have a low self-esteem and tend toimagine that they are not capable of realizing their dreams becauseof the womanliness. In the poem, the author seeks to allay such fearsby reminding the women that one can realize their hopes and dreamsdespite their physical unattractiveness. The author states
“Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about” (Angelou)
The author reiterates the need for women to be proud of theirphysical being and use the same to propel themselves to greaterheights of achievement. The theme is an indication of the fact thatthe first step toward the achievement of success is dependent onone’s realization of their capabilities. For example, women need toacknowledge the fact that they are unique. It is out of such thoughtsthat the author uses the word “phenomenal” to describe the uniquecapabilities of a woman.
Overall, the poem is successful in illustrating the theme of thepursuit of, the realization of, or failure to obtain people`s hopesand dreams and the irony of living with, struggling with, ortriumphant success coping with life`s travails. Women need to embracethe thought of their inherent capabilities for them to be greatachievers.