Emily Dickinson

If you would like to look more into Emily Dickinson here are some websites:

Option 1

option 2

Gender inequality is something that is seen through anything that is seen part of the female body, mind or thoughts. Emily Dickinson uses many symbols and ideas that show the many ways that women are treated inferior to men.

To begin, one of the the inferiorities is thought;

Thought belong to Him who gave it-/ Then – to Him who bear” (Dickinson 788).

This is a quote of why I thought she was using He to refer to patriarchy and man in general. It reminded me of last class how it seemed like she was saying only men can see because they have to power of seeing because they are men feel to it.  Thought belongs to men only because they can bear to think and are allowed to think without being discriminated.  But then again like all the other quotes, it could be God because all thoughts first belong to him and he gives it to people.  And then he had Jesus who had to bear what God gave him.  So I’m really confused about who the HE is supposed to represent in the stories.  Is it supposed to be God, nature or men?

Part of the what women and the way they are categorized is their beauty. Beauty is automatically associated with women.

I died for Beauty

Click for a clip of “I died for Beauty” – but was scarce
Adjusted in the Tomb
When One who died for Truth, was lain
In an adjoining Room –

He question softly “Why I failed”?
“For Beauty,” I replied –
“And I – for Truth – Themself are One –
We Brethren, are” , He said –

And so, as Kinsmen, met a Night –
We talked between the Rooms –
Until the Moss had reached our lips –
And covered up – Our names –

This is the poem I was hunting for as I read through the book. I first read it in 8th grade, and I have loved it ever since. I really enjoy the images of truth and beauty, but I wonder how one dies for beauty? I do enjoy the ending, however, because of its strange trailing off. The idea of two bodies moldering in a grave but speaking to one another about the eternity of beauty is a great one, and I was really excited to read this again.

From her suffering we can connect that to agony. The idea of being controlled by men and their rules can create agony and suffering to any woman who wishes to get be her own person and not tied down to a man.

I like a look of Agony
Because I know it’s true –
Men do not sham Convulsion,
Nor simulate, a Throe –

The eyes glaze once – and that is Death –
Impossible to feign
The Beads opon the Forehead
By homely Anguish strung.

I enjoyed this one too. Its point is simple: you can’t fake death. I really like the death imagery here, as well as the fact that it is “impossible to feign.” This poem also seems very cynical, considering that the narrator enjoys the look of Agony because the narrator knows it to be true, but I really do enjoy the images Dickinson uses here. The simple opening of the second stanza really caught my attention because it is so matter-of-fact.

The religious point of view is controlled by men, here Dickinson is criticizing the men who write it;

The Bible is an antique Volume – / Written by faded Men / At the suggestion of Holy Spectres (2531).

I am still focusing on the idea that Dickinson uses the word men and later on uses boys. This worries me, she seems a bit “anti-men” which is not a bad thing but it why is she so against men who believe in religion. One thing that comes to mind is the power that men held especially those who were involved in the religion. A line about sin, “Sin- a distinguished Precipice” makes me angry. Not because of what it means, because I don’t know what it means. I think it might that sin is inevitable and once you sin it is hard to stop. Then again, it could mean that the road of sin is harsh and unique, or it could have a more deeper meaning.

The will to bear is the suffering she feels. Emily Dickinson shows darkness and from what we read before we see the way she feels about men. We can also connect the religious point of view to a male dominated world;

Grant me, Oh Lord, a sunny mind -/ Thy windy will to bear!” (p. 2560, 123).

Again speaks of pain and suffering.  She is asking God to grant her will to bear something.  But from the tone of the poem, I would guess that it isn’t an enjoyable thing which is why she is asking for help from God to bear it.  The phrase, thy windy will to bear, sounds a bit like a storm is going to come and she is asking for help to stand her ground against the wind.  Asking for help from an almighty power like God isn’t used lightly, it’s used in extreme cases of helplessness.  That’s why I think that the tone of this poem is also dark and gloomy, she needs help to survive the wind and she is asking God for help.  It reminds me of when Jesus, asks God for help when he is about to die on the cross.

The female is to get married. In her time, that is what a woman needed to do.Dickinson is criticizing the way that women are raised, to only be wives, and be happy with their lives because they have accomplished to get married;

This being comfort—then/That other kind—was pain—/But Why compare?/I’m ‘Wife’!  Stop there!” (Poem #225, lines 9-12).

I’m not entirely certain what this poem is getting at, but I get the feeling it has something to do with how, in Emily’s Dickinson’s time, once a woman got married, she was only viewed as a wife, and not as an actual human being.  When she says, “I’m ‘Wife’!  Stop there!” she seems to be saying that married women were supposed to be satisfied with the role of wife and homemaker, and were not supposed to want anything more than that (a career, etc).  Also, when she says, “How odd the Girl’s life looks/Behind this soft Eclipse” (5-6), I wonder if she’s reflecting on how, at that time, girls grew up dreaming of finding the right man, and being happily married, but once they did get married, they often found it not to be anything like how they had imagined it would be.

Dickinson tries to take power away from the men. She uses one word that makes their actions inferior to any woman’s because if they are young they are less experienced than a grown woman;

Boys that ‘believe’ are very lonesome – / Other Boys are ‘lost’” (2592),

seems controversial. What does she mean? She uses quotation marks to make a statement used by priests and  pastors sarcastic. This raises questions, this time they are why does she attack the religion? I understand she is obviously not very religious, but what has caused this anger and hatred towards the religion? Dickinson seems to be very angry when writing some poems, but other poems are funny and clever, the drunken bee one was funny. Oh these poems are confusing me. How do her ideas on religion connect to the other authors? Well, there is Hawthorne who wrote a criticism on the religion of that time.

I died for Beauty