An analysis of the way Dickens and Angelou present the coming of age an search for identity of Pip and Maya in "Great Expectations" and "I Know why the Caged Bird Sings"

Essay by allythegr8College, Undergraduate February 2003

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Both these books are autobiographical and are based around the things encountered by the main characters on their journey from childhood to maturity. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" is non-fiction, and is based on the life of the author, Maya Angelou. It follows her story starts in the 1930`s and follows Maya from the age of three, until she is sixteen. "Great Expectations" is a fictional autobiography, with Pip, the main character followed from around 8, into his twenties. The book was written and based in the mid 1800`s.

The overall structure of the two characters ascent to adulthood is slightly different. Both characters leave their childhood homes, but pips character later returns. This is used to illustrate the author's view of what it means to be "Grown up"

I believe that both Maya Angelou and Dickens present maturity as an identification with your "roots".

In this context, I believe that both books show the characters to have achieved maturity, to differing degrees.

The opening of both books is highly significant to the tone and plot of the book. In the opening of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" Maya Angelou is placed in a humiliating situation- She has forgotten the words of the poem she is supposed to be reciting and is wearing what she sees as a "plain, ugly cut-down from a white woman's once-was-purple throwaway". The dress` description is a reflection of how Maya sees her self. The negative language - plain, ugly and subordinate to white women, is repeated throughout the book, particularly when the character is very young. This sets the book up to be a story of how Maya begins to respect and esteem herself as a goal for maturity.

"Great Expectations" opens on Pip in...