The poem begins with declaring the subject, “My Life” which had stood like a “Loaded Gun.” The woman in the poem is the gun, and there she stood filled with anger, unable to express herself in this society. There is a sense of this suppression of anger illustrated by the “Loaded Gun.” A “Loaded Gun” is a powerful image that creates this sense of being potentially dangerous. The phrase “a Loaded Gun” is bound between two dashes. It is almost as if she is feeling trapped, even though she has great potential. She is unable to express herself due to her limitations as a woman in the society.
Throughout the poem, there are many occurrences of dashes. In the first stanza itself, she uses the dash to connect two ideas without using grammar. This is done to create a new relationship between the two phrases “My life had stood” and “a Loaded Gun.” The speaker’s life is “like” a loaded gun. The use of the word “carried” here seems to give the feeling that the speaker was almost swept off her feet, in a romantic gesture type of way. This su...
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...of the word “must.” She begins confidently “For I have but the power to kill” followed by “Without” then “the power to die.” If we keep in mind that the life of the speaker is personified as a gun, in this scenario she needs her husband to live for her to function. Almost as if she would become mad if she were to suffer the loss.
Dickinson lived in the Victorian era where women where suppressed. She illustrates her frustration with this by employing layering metaphors, dashes, punctuation and various literary devices. Each device is strategically placed to serve a purpose in this complex poem. The poem describes the relationship between this speaker and master which seems to give the speaker the illusion of power. This illusion of power and the love in the speaker’s relationship serves as an escape from the society where women are trapped in their traditional roles.
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