Don’t B Cooped Up! “l know what the caged bird feels, atlas! ” (Dunbar). Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy’ can be interpreted from a multitude of lens; whether seen from a more historical view or an emotional view, the poem conveys a very real and similar message. The poem plays off the idea of being “cooped up” in a cage and longing to escape its ‘cruel bars’ (Dunbar). When analyzing each of the three Professors’ interpretations, they all had a solid notion of what Dunbar was trying to express to his audience.
Although, in my opinion, one of the three Professors really summarized he feelings behind the poem: Professor B. Professor B has a stronger interpretation of the text than Professors A and C. Professor A’s interpretation stems from a historical standpoint. He/she views the poem, as the struggles African-Americans, in the late 1800s to the early 1900s, had to endure and overcome. He/she thinks that Dunbar was trying to… Illustrate the desires for freedom and equality expressed by many African-Americans attempting to make a life for themselves in America’s northern states following the Emancipation Proclamation and the conclusion of the Civil War”. Although the desire of freedom nd equality was clearly iterated throughout Dunbar’s poem, the idea of it being strictly directed towards African-Americans is false.
If only reading the poem and not knowing the background of Dunbar, one would never suspect that he was, indeed, an African-American, nor would they make the conclusion that these feelings of sorrow and entrapment derived from previous life experiences??”slavery. The poem does not allude to anything historical. On the contrary, it is possible that Dunbar is using his previous encounters or struggles as “fuel” for his writings, but this does not suggest hat it is the only thing Dunbar was referring to in his poem.
Unlike Professor A, Professor B took a step back and evaluated the poem, as it is, not as what it could be. Professor B interpreted Dunbar’s poem from an emotional view. He/she didn’t hone in on specific details of Dunbar’s life, instead his/her interpretation of the text was that the poem “speaks to the universal frustration experienced by anyone feeling trapped or oppressed, a feeling common to anyone when our realities disappointingly run antithetical to our wishes”. Professor B sees the poem, as a way o express one’s self when they feel alone, abandoned, or even disappointed.
He/she didn’t detain it to one person or type in particular, rather than reaching out to every, and any individual that can relate to the “thoughts and feelings of a fenced-in animal”(Professor B). He/she refers to the confines of one’s ordinary life, for instance, being trapped behind a desk could very well be similar to being cooped up in a cage. Unfortunately, Professor B mentions that the narrator of Dunbar’s poem expresses our desire to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, when in all actuality Dunbar’s poem ppears to be expressing the need to experience all of life’s beauties.
With great triumph though, there is always run for error. Speaking of mistakes, Professor C was sorely mistaken when writing his/her interpretation. He/she didn’t make mention of the poem once. Instead, he/she offered up a lot of information completely irrelevant to the task at hand. When reviewing his/ the poem, “Sympathy’. He/she gave a plethora of interesting facts about Dunbar and his accomplishments throughout high school, but sadly this wasn’t quite what one was looking for. Words of advice for next time Professor C, take the text into consideration!
With all that said, and when analyzing each Professors interpretation into great depth, Professor B rocked the house and swept the floor with the other two Professors??”especially Professor C. He/she gave the best interpretation when strictly listening to the words of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy’. Although Professor A had good content, he/she focused a little too much on Dunbar’s past, and once again, Professor C, not be mentioned. Finally, “I know why the caged bird sings! ” (Dunbar).