As a literary woman of the nineteenth century, Emily Dickinson wrote, ? ?Hope? is a things with feathers- that perches in the soul- and sings a tune without the words- and never stops- at all.? Are you listening? Does your soul too sing a melody, an ongoing tune to which you delicately move, and never stop? Here Dickinson suggests an aspect of life, a struggle for spiritual freedom, that applies to many women within the nineteenth century, as well as the women of today. My consciousness speaks to me; a spark of hope rests inside my soul, hoping to emerge into the sunlight of each new day. I am a woman; I am a delicate woman who listens to Dickinson?s fine words. I listen to the tune that never ends, in a constant search for achieving my own ?space.? Everyday, I struggle to free my feathered bird from its cage. Dickinson has identified with her internal struggle as a woman, to achieve an outer space, and as the bird, she freed herself from the cage that held her spiritual soul.
A caged bird symbolizes Dickinson?s soul. Similarly, fictional women in nineteenth century literature are caged birds. Consider for example, Kate Chopin?s, Edna Pontellier in The Awakening and Charolette Perkins Gilman?s, Woman, in ?The Yellow Wallpaper.?
Initially in Kate Chopin?s, The Awakening we meet a fair, frail, passionate woman, Edna Pontellier, whose destiny is to fall into spiritual depression. She is a caged bird that cannot be released from her own spiritual confinement until she recognizes her own strength to do so. Edna?s childish, capricious tendencies, concerning her submissiveness towards her ?lovers? and adultery towards her husband create confusion in finding the outlet for her freedom and passion.
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...soul within me? Who keeps the bird from singing a melody which I understand?? I ask the same question for the fictional women I have studied. ?Is it within one?s strength to determine who has the key to the cage?? As I continue to struggle for the answers to my questions, I continue to listen to the bird that is perched within my soul, singing the ongoing tune- that never stops at all. I too, one day, hope to free myself from the cage that holds me back from life, a free spiritual life.
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening, Susan Gilbert, Ed. The Awakening and Selected
Stories. New York: Penguin Books, 1984.
Dickinson, Emily. ?Hope.? The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. Ed. Thomas
H. Johnson. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1960.
Gilman, Charolette Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper. Wallace Stegner and Mary Stegner,
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