Main theme:

The main theme that is evident throughout the poem is that persecution/ oppression leads to an eventual uprising rebellion. In the beginning of the poem the persona tells of how she attempts to commit suicide but never succeeds – ‘The first time it happened I was ten. It was an accident. The second time I meant/ to last it out and not come back at all. / I rocked shut.’ In stanza 22 the persona tells of her enemy-‘the brute’ who later turn into ‘God’ and ‘Lucifer’ which emphasises the power the enemy has over her. When the persona does die in stanza 25, she reassures us that she will rise from the ashes and will be more powerful then before – ‘out of the ash / I rise with me red hair/ and I eat men like air.’ This line also has connotations with the red Phoenix that rises from the ashes and also has red hair.
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Another theme that is also evident is that persecuted or oppressed people loose their sense of dignity. The persona has lost her dignity after attempting suicide on a number of times she starts to believe she is worthless and starts to lower her self esteem by doing things that are vulgar and undignified such as a strip tease – ‘They unwrap me hand and foot / The big strip tease./ Gentleman, ladies.’ By being heavily depressed the persona has lost her ways and her dignity, by exposing herself to the public without thought