In Emily Dickinson’s poem #280, “I Felt a Funeral, in my Brain”, she compares her state of depression and madness with a funeral. In a predominant male society, Dickinson feels trapped in a coffin, where she is unable to make any decisions on her own. The women’s role in society during her time was to be a good “Angel of the House”, to be a good housewife. This captivity is the cause of her depression, which in turn causes her to slowly lose her sense of self. The “Mourners” seem to be the majority of society who demands her to take up her part in society as a respectable young woman. This peer pressure seems to draw her in:
“Kept treading – treading – till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through –
And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum –
Kept beating – beating – till I thought
My Mind was going numb
In the end, she decides to accept the limitations of her freedom and give...
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... her. Linda does not only defy Flint but also her grandmother by disregarding her grandmother’s advice to abandon her plan. “I resolved to leave them that night…and nothing less than the freedom of my children would have induced me to disregard her [the grandmother’s] advice. Linda’s decision to continue on with her plan for freedom in the northern states, which she obtains in the end, for the sake of her children show that she found her true sense of self as a mother.
In conclusion, Emily Dickinson and Harriet Jacobs found their true sense of self as a free woman by deciding to be different from the conventions of society and go their own path to freedom. Once an individual finds their true sense of self, they will acknowledge their qualities and limitations and use them to challenge themselves, which will help them to gain respect for their individual humanity.
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