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The Examination and Analysis of Emily Dickinson

This research paper aims to analyse and synthesise the primary and secondary texts of Emily Dickinson. It seeks to explore into the mounting life of Emily Dickinson, examination of her artistic works and an in-depth analysis of critics and scholars about her works.

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson is recognised as one of the most inexhaustible American poetic writers unrecognised in her own time. The acclaim to her works are far much enjoyed today compared to the time she was alive. Emily was born at the Amherst Homestead, Massachusetts on December 10th, 1830. Her towering contribution to the American literature is infused with a lot of energy and creativity which she chose mostly to share with close family and friends. Emily begun writing in the early teenage years of her life. However, the most intensive writings were in the decade of her twenties and early thirties which she composed about 1147 poems, of which 833 of them were bound to individual packets known as fascicles.(Miller 6)

Dickinson privately wrote bundles of poetry and corralled hundreds of letters which remained virtually unpublished until after the time of her death on May 15th 1986. Emily made very little attempts to publish her works. Instead, the contending effort of her immediate family and intimate friends made it possible for Emily’s life and works to be shared to the world. In my opinion, Dickinson’s poetic style was delightfully unique integrating perfectly into hymnody and ballad meter association which is indubitably untrammelled by form. The valiant display of authoritative defiance expressed through the works and life of Dickinson impulses an inspiration to feminists. (Miller 56)

Dickinson had family roots trace back to New England. Her paternal grandfather known as Samuel Fowler Dickinson is well recognised as the founder of the currently Amherst college. Her father was a state legislator and consequently worked at Amherst College. Emily Dickinson began her Education at the Amherst Academy and later joined Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. She was an excellent student with an independent and imaginative mind which often challenged the teachers. The compositions she wrote were free reign unlike everything ever read and a sparkling imagination that always produced a sensation. In 1948, Emily left school because of reasons that are not yet known. Theories speculated that she may have suffered from depression or her father ultimately decided to pull her from the school (Brody 18)

Early works by Dickinson were inspired greatly by the then principle at Amherst academy kwon as Leonard Humphrey. A close family friend Benjamin Franklin Newton also sent Dickinson a book by Ralph Waldo Emerson about poetry. Dickinson then explored the vast states of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia where she made friends and later correspondents for her works like Charles Wadsworth.(Brody 5)

Although the profusion of Dickinson’s works eludes categorization, the weight towards the advocating for feminism sentiments was substantial. The Dickinson’s household as a centre of the society was very politically active. All men of the Dickinson family had political ambitions and dominant males. In one of her letters to a close and the then to be sister in law Susan Gilbert, it is evident that a bitter disquiet existed in the Dickinson household. The tradition of the family had prepared Emily Dickinson for a civic duty life and later denied her that opportunity to participate in the civil responsibility because of her gender. This was during a Whig convention that took place Baltimore and she is quoted writing in her letter, “Why can’t I be a Delegate to the great Whig Convention? –don’t I know all about Daniel Webster, and the Tariff and the Law?”  (Miller 67)

Dickinson acquired a popular notoriety status of contradicting and opposing the sway of popular opinion and sentiments by the general public. While at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, Dickinson was the only student who was unwilling to commit her faith to Christ in the manner in which her peers and society expected her to. Entitled as a person with no hope of salvation, she intensely felt the exclusion and isolation, which she expressed in writing to her friends. In the long run, Dickinson chose solitude over society. The rebellion reflected in her actions and writing explains Dickinson’s ceasing to attend church in her early thirties. After the wave of religious awakening, Dickinson returned to Amherst where she seriously concentrated on her poetic writing.  Dickinson then withdrew from the public scene for the better part of the 1860s only making little or no appearances in commencement receptions. The intent output of the writing was not clear at the time but a later; compilation was deduced after her death when her sister Lavinia discovered fair copies of a surfeit of poems in her cabinet. Dickinson succumbed to bight’s disease.(Cengage 270)

The distillation of Dickinson’s primary poetic works is just a marvel of utmost creativity with a pure condensation of intellect, emotional depth and energy. The construction of the lines dashes and phrases accentuated to the mood, theme and tone reaches out to touch the extremities of the sublime grip by the readers. The poems are not lengthy with the longest being two pages. The foreclosure of distinct intimate relationship with the readers especially with the styles of writing, exhibiting a penchant for adaptation of personae, use of figures of speech and the keen usage of oxymoron’s. Among other constructs are the guts to leave the poems in suspense, the ability to compose multiple poems with variant formats and the successful omission of tittles. Dickinson’s consideration of relationships is evidently extended to the audience and readers where blank spaces were often left for contribution and in involvement of the readers to her poetry.(Hughes 120)

The imagery and imagination of Dickinson was tremendous. The scope traversed from vast literary extractions from her educational background to themes of scientific nature to the domestic settings and arbitrarily geographical and garden metaphors. All this would compile a very distinct elation of a passionate magnetic and love attraction towards Dickinson’s poetic works especially with her readers who will relate and connect with creativity from diverse walks of life. The variant themes depicted in her original works disperse a contingent of dynamic approaches where various extremes are met from desolation to happiness. The resonate audience who relate to such inclusion of circumstance is infinite. Immortalization of Dickinson’s literary works is undisputable. (Hughes 170)

The disposition of Dickinson’s poetic stories and lyrics resonates with the factual concerns of her life and consequently deconstructs speculation. Above all, the tone set in the poetry inspires a positive enterprise towards love of family and friends with a humble and friendly mood. I personally consider Dickinson a valiant heroine of modern day women. The recognition that commands popularity of Dickinson’s poetic manuscripts is relatable to modern day fights for equality for women. As such, the modern day reader is pulled into a world of speculation where an active imagination compliments the freedom of the reader to decide the speculation and the resolve to adopt inspiration from the poetry. Dickinson found profound pleasure in her reading and likewise managed to match it in her poetic works. Nonetheless, in her later years before she died, Dickinson put forward a hopeful sense of resolution with God.(Morgan 88)

Despite the fact that Dickinson’s primary poetic works might have never made it to the world, the wealth of its words seemed to have gasped for life. Dickinson’s poetry is clearly alive and breathing. In fact, the poetic works of Dickinson have been immortalised and have withstood the test of time. A museum in tribute to her works has been set up in her honour otherwise Emily Dickinson would soon have been forgotten only by her public achievements. The reader’s reaction wholly described the convectional ambient that Dickinson’s poems demanded. Criticism and dispraise for Dickinson’s use of style perfectly matched the curiosity of the life of the poet. Mystery of the poetic construct is often met by the disappointment of an often misdirected speculation about a disappointing love which motivated Dickinson’s poetry and inspiration. There is no doubt that Dickinson’s poems and letters are considered great works of art.(Hughes 198)

Scholars and writers are currently debating on how Dickinson’s primary works can be transferred into print. Even though much more can be learned from her fair copies, researchers are working on a method to transfer the chronology of Dickinson’s primary works into print. Valuing Dickinson’s use of variants, lineation and punctuation will have a key effect on the manner in which her poems are understood. The advent of Emily Dickinson’s journal of 1992 has greatly contributed to understanding of her primary works by students of poetry and researchers. Dickinson’s compressed and poignant verse structure has profoundly influenced 20th-century poetry and its direction. Unfortunately, so much of the command of Dickinson’s uncommon use of syntax and form stood lost in alteration. A full compilation of the primary works titled, ‘The Poems of Emily Dickinson’ was never published until 1955. Nonetheless, previous iterations had been released.(Cengage 67)

There exists a lot of criticisms on the works of Emily Dickinson. The sudden burst of poetic production in such abundance raises a point of interest. The stance, motivation and the workings behind such variant exhibition of character harmonically blending with an ingenious rich poetic justice is not a scenario to be flouted. Scholars and critiques have over time analysed different perspective views of the poet Dickinson. Early scholars pursued proof of a failed love concern in the early 1850s as the motivation behind the sudden burst of poetic interest and outburst. The relationships that existed in Dickinson’s life at the time were of distinctively of close relation of love to friends and subsequently her immediate family. The inference in her works was a passionate love affair with the family and friends that would possibly have swayed the sudden profile context of Dickinson’s poetic works. Sequentially there exists no evidence linking Dickinson to any romantic relationship.(Wendy 138)

The current scholars have consequentially abandoned the search for romantically relating the inspiration of Dickinson’s poetic works to a romantic relationship. The existence of any sexual association was strictly distinct and definitive. The poetry which evolves from a multifunctional mind perspective complicates a unilateral detractor pin point where the reflection of her poetic reaching can be identified as a definable master plot. The focus however is prospected to find out the motivation behind the matchless poetic style especially with the use of the fascicles. The motive and origin of Dickinson’s poetry from her life’s perspective is still a question of great interest. With the hesitancy to publish her works in the later years of her life even when she had an opportunity to raises an inquisitive provocation to closely examine her communications with other literary figures and the contents of her poetic manuscripts.(Cengage 132)

The self-seclusion by the poet Dickinson presented in her life is criticised as a revolt against her willed omission from a male dominated society. The uprising against patriarchal authority has been on a steady rise among feminists today. Such was the situation as mentioned earlier which theorists would exploit as the motivation of the poet’s style and origin of inspiration. The outlet to express the most volatile feelings was transferred through a less vocal forum where the privacy of her personal sentiments would be secure in the lettered documents and poems. Taking the viewpoint of the world today compared to the time Dickinson lived, there was very insignificant vocalisation given to feminism. Theorists claim that Dickinson’s motivation was a leap forward of a breakthrough from the shackles of a patriarchal society giving birth to a child calling out for a gender equal society. (Wendy 120)

Despite plentiful gendered myths and criticism being drawn from Emily Dickinson, critiques no longer consider her as diminutive and a victim of unrequited love. Instead, a recent study gives a different perspective of approach to Dickinson’s life and poetry. The opposing reading builds the poet as a conqueror of the confines of femininity with an independent explosive poetic power. Adrienne Rich argues that Dickinson’s poetic power is best rendered as an image of the volcano, loaded gun and bomb. Rich among other feminist critiques have convincingly argued to dispel Dickinson as a hyper feminine poet by not overlooking the salient features of her works. In a completely new approach, the attention is shifted to Dickinson’s conventional use of figures to depict power or weakness. Margaret Homans provides a reading about the ‘daisy’ in Dickinson’s letters. Homans understanding is that the ‘daisy’ precludes other dominant figures such as the ‘master’ and the ‘sun’ to assert its own power. An interpretation of the daisy as its own power rather than a restraint force overshadows the notion that depicts an over determined feminist approach.(Morgan 172)

Emily Dickinson’s view of Christianity is unmistakably expressed in her poetry. However, there is a conflicted view that critics exploit. Poem 128 marked the onset set forth to define the religious occupation of Dickinson for the rest of her life. The expressions are tied to the deep knowledge of God and that immorality terrifies and angers her. The knowledge and condensed theological considerations in comparison to the religious repugnance Dickinson’s life took is a matter of ironic contest. From a critical point of view, there is an anticipation of a negative and Calvinist understanding of religious references especially the lack of urgency to the predestination heaven. The poet exhibits a juxtaposition that is similarly surprising and astonishing considering the ambience of the poem in respect to the life of Dickinson. The final stanzas of the poem defend a standpoint of Christian redemption. The comfort of heaven and plead for eternal peace for the speakers loved ones also contradicts the religious stand lived by the poet with reference to what the poems inferred.(Hughes 380)


The facts stated are irrefutably a solidifying permanent weld that affirms such accomplishment by a great poetess. Lessons and inspirations can be sieved by many literary scholars and researchers at the same time enjoyed by the readers. The life of Emily Dickinson is an epitome of valiant courage, passion, love and above all humble in all respects. The recognition of Dickinson’s style, uniqueness and intellect is undisputedly legendary. Attesting such brilliance and influence resonates with the fact that Emily Dickinson rose above the test of time exalted in popular context despite her unwillingness to acquire recognition. It is safe to crown Dickinson as the queen of poetry recognised by modern women poets for her creativity and artistic control. Dickinson is perhaps the most outstanding poet of the 19th century especially traversing the gender gap as a woman.

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