Historical Context in A Little Bird I Am
Historical Context Examples in A Little Bird I Am:
Text of the Poem
"bird..." See in text (Text of the Poem)
In Greek mythology, women who were violated or pursued by men were often turned into birds to set them free. One example of this is the story of Philomela. Philomela is raped by her sister’s husband, who then cuts out her tongue to keep her from telling anyone. After Philomela enacts her revenge, she is turned into a nightingale to escape punishment and regain her voice in the form of birdsong. Alcott draws on this long history of bird imagery to create a sympathetic speaker in the first line of her poem.
"Him..." See in text (Text of the Poem)
The speaker’s captor is simply identified with this capitalized, masculine pronoun. Western cultures and Judeo-Christian religious systems have typically used a capitalized, masculine pronoun to refer to God. This could suggest then that the speaker exists in a cage because God has willed it. However, since the speaker has identified herself as a “little bird,” the capitalized pronoun could emphasize the power that her male captor has over her. In either reading, the idea conveyed still suggests that the little bird, or woman, was put into a cage by someone with more power than her, emphasizing her lack of agency in this situation.