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Theme and Tone in Poetry

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on 20 April 2015

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Transcript of Theme and Tone in Poetry

Theme and Tone in Poetry
What is theme?
Theme is:
Defined as a main idea or an underlying meaning of a literary work that may be stated directly or indirectly.

Tone, in written composition, is an attitude of a writer toward a subject or an audience. Tone is generally conveyed through the choice of words or the viewpoint of a writer on a particular subject.

Time to read and Identify!
As a CLASS we are going to read and identify the subject, theme and tone of the poem
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou.
You Decide.....
It is important not to confuse a theme of a literary work with its subject. Subject is a topic which acts as a foundation for a literary work while a theme is an opinion expressed on the subject. For example, a writer may choose a subject of war for his story and the theme of a story may be writer’s personal opinion that war is a curse for humanity. Usually, it is up to the readers to explore a theme of a literary work by analyzing characters, plot and other literary devices.
Every written piece comprises a central theme or subject matter. The manner in which a writer approaches this theme and subject is the tone. The tone can be formal, informal, serious, comic, sarcastic, sad, and cheerful or it may be any other existing attitudes.
Love and friendship are frequently occurring themes in literature. They generate emotional twists and turns in a narrative and can lead to a variety of endings: happy, sad or bittersweet. The following are famous literary works with love and friendship themes
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Father: “We are going on a vacation.”
Son: “That’s great!!!

– The tone of son’s response is very cheerful
Father: “We can’t go on vacation this summer.”
Son: “Ok. Great! That’s what I expected.

– The son’s tone is sarcastic in the given response
(topic/who or what)

The caged bird
(Indirect/direct underlying meaning determined by reader)
Imprisonment on various levels such as:
Economic/Class Status
What is the authors attitude? How does the author feel?
Key Word Examples: Proud, friendly, humorous, sad, fearful, reflective, etc.
A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
(fresh, sad, hopeful,bold, horrified, cautious, social, religious, political, dreary, remorseful,cold, brave, agitated, etc)
But first, lets visit the author's and poems background to see if it influences the poem in any way
A Legend is born!
Maya Angelou was born on April 4, 1928 in Saint Louis, Missouri and raised in Stamps, Arkansas.
During this time....
The nation was swamped with racial discrimination and violence but Dr. Angelou received acceptance from her family, friends and community.
When she was your age...
Dr. Angelou earned a dance scholarship to San Francisco's Labor School for her love of the arts.
She dropped out to become the school's first African-American female cable car conductor.
She later returned to high school, received a diploma and gave birth to her son.
In the 1950's...
Toured Europe with the Opera production Porgy and Bess .
Danced with Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham.
Recorded her 1st album Calyspo Lady
Joined the Harlem's Writer Guild
Living abroad...
In the 1960's, Dr. Angelou moved to Cairo, Egypt serving as editor of The Arab Observer for the English Language Weekly
In Ghana, Dr. Angelou taught music and drama at the University of Ghana while serving as editor of The African Review and writer for The Ghanian Times
The 1970's
Began working on and published I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
Wrote screenplay for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia
Dr. Angelou has over 50 honorary degrees.
Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000.
Lincoln Medal 2008.
Professor of American Studies at Wake. Forest University.
3 Grammy Awards.

Most Popular Works...
I know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Phenomenal Woman
Still I Rise
The Complete Collected Poems
Project Time!
In a group of 4, find 4 poems from the textbook for your group to analyze and find the theme and tone of each poem. You will present your findings this Friday!
You will be given a handout with further instructions and requirements.
Full transcript