“Woman Work”by Maya Angelou Stefanie Clinton
Title • Suggests feminism • About woman’s duties, rights, expectations, etc.
Paraphrase • The speaker has a lot of duties. These duties range from caring for children, cleaning the house, and cooking food. She wishes that nature would take her side and cool her again. She wishes to be carried away by a storm in order to rest again. All she wishes to do is rest. The nature that consumes her is all that she can call her own.
Connotation • The poem suggests that although women are expected to do a variety of chores, they do not receive the benefits, rewards, or recognition that they deserve. • Structure: long, run-on sentences and lists • By providing a long list of chores that women must fulfill on a daily basis, Angelou allows the reader to understand just how difficult it is for women. • “I’ve got the children to tend / the clothes to mend / the floor to mop / the food to shop / then the chicken to fry / the baby to dry / I got company to feed / the garden to weed.....”
Connotation (cont.) • Through the use of long, run-on sentences, Angelou creates a feeling of dreariness and wearisome in the reader – similar to what a woman would feel while accomplishing these tasks. • “I’ve got shirts to press / the tots to dress / the can to be cut / I gotta clean up this hut / then see about the sick / and the cotton to pick. / Shine on me, sunshine / rain on me, rain / fall softly, dewdrops / and cool my brow again.”
Attitude • The speaker feels very tired and disappointed. She is tired of the mundane chores that she is expected to complete on a daily basis with little to no recognition or benefits. She has grown disappointed waiting for such recognition to arrive. • The author is sorry that women around the world must work just as hard as men (only in a different setting) just to have such work ignored.
Shifts • Shift occurs between first and second stanza • Shift in subject and tone • Lists daily chores with a dreary tone wishes for outer forces to carry her away with a wistful tone • “I gotta clean up this hut then see about the sick and the cotton to pick.....fall softly dewdrops and cool my brow again.” • By having the shift occur after a long list, Angelou is recreating the feeling of sorrow after a long day’s work with no recognition.
Title • Indicates that the chores and duties listed are that of a woman’s • Creates a feeling of pity once the reader understands that all the speaker wants is to “cool [her] brow again.....rest again.....[and] rest tonight.”
Theme • Feminism • Work • Women should be recognized for the hard work that they accomplish on a day-to-day basis.
Related Media https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoU3ffVp7F8 • “She Works Hard for the Money” – Kris Allen • Cover of Donna Summer’s song • Feminism theme • Focuses on the story of a woman who works hard despite her conditions