Phillis Wheatley

 

Throughout our study of the literature of the American Revolution we have been primarily reading the texts of the founding fathers and other men of the period. However, women played an important role in the founding of our country and contributed greatly to its literature and political texts. One woman that made significant contributions to the arts was Phillis Wheatley.

 

Brought from Africa on the slave trade, Phillis Wheatley was given a formal education by her masters, and went on to write some of the most beautiful poetry of early America. Hidden in her poems were a celebration of her faith and a criticism of the institution of slavery in America.

In class today we began analyzing her poem ‘On Being Brought from Africa to America’. Please watch the video below of this analysis if you need to review!

Click here to access the poem.

 

We will be exploring the following questions about Wheatley’s poem in class – remember, our ‘how’ and ‘why‘ questions are the important ones to consider!

  • What is her overall tone in the poem?
  • How does she establish that tone?
  • What symbols and/or metaphors did she use throughout the poem?
  • How did she use symbols and/or metaphors effectively to give her poem multiple meanings or ‘layers’?
  • How would you describe the theme of the poem?

This is the fourth poem we have analyzed and annotated together or in small group – you will have to work with a poem on your own for this unit test. Please make sure you are practicing and becoming comfortable with close reading and analysis!