Literary Analysis of Nina Simone’s Song “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free”

Slavery has been a huge issue in the past and still is today. Nina Simone used her song “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” to express her attitude, feelings, and personal experiences of slavery. She uses literary devices and strong wording to express her opinions in a way that catches the listener’s ear. Through her lyric we will look at Nina Simone’s attitude towards slavery.

Nina Simone’s piece, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” was created in 1967. During this time period, the Civil Rights Movement was a big deal, so throughout her song we know she is talking about the form of slavery. She writes about how she wishes she knew or could break free or share. Nina makes it clear to the listener that all she can do is hope and “wish” that she could experience the world outside of slavery. The repetition of “wish” really stands out and is a literary device used to show the listener how held back she is. The use of this repetition makes the attitude of the song almost depressed but with a little anger. The listener can hear this anger. The listener can hear this anger when Simone’s voice increases in emotion and passion as the song progresses.

In the last stanza of the song, the whole attitude changes. Simone changes her repetition from the word “wish” to the word “know.” She sings, “I’d sing ‘cause I know” three times and then finishes with “I know how it feels to be free.” The word choice that Simone uses here really points to her change in attitude. She is say that she will sing and be full of joy when she finds this freedom she has been looking for. The song at this point is very upbeat and proud. Simone displays to the reader how amazing this freedom would be and how much it would mean to her.

In conclusion, Simone expresses her attitude about slavery very dearly in, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free.” She feels slavery is holding her back and it angers her and makes her depressed. She uses lots of repetition and beautiful word choices to display this to the listen in a brilliant, creative way. Her lyrics really helps us understand her point of view and her feelings towards slavery. `


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