Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

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Emily Dickinson lived in an era of Naturalism and Realism (1855-1910). She lived in a period of The Civil War and the Frontier. She was affected by her life and the era she lived in. She also had many deaths in her family and that’s part of the reason that she was very morbid and wrote about death.

Emily Dickinson grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts in the nineteenth century. As a child she was brought up into the Puritan way of life. She was born on December 10, 1830 and died fifty-six years later. Emily lived isolated in the house she was born in; except for the short time she attended Amherst Academy and Holyoke Female Seminary. Emily Dickinson never married and lived on the reliance of her father. Dickinson was close to her sister Lavinia and her brother Austin her whole life. Most of her family were members of the church, but Emily never wished to become one. Her closest friend was her sister-in-law Susan. Susan was Emily's personal critic; as long as Emily was writing she asked Susan to look her poems over.

Emily Dickinson was affected by her life for several reasons. One of the reasons was that she was never married, though she went through many serious relationships, she never settled down.

Another reason that she was affected by her life was that her mother was not “emotionally accessible”. She was not close to her mother and never shared any of her feelings with her, which most daughters feel they can. This might have caused Emily to be very weird and strange. The Dickinson children were also raised in the Christian tradition, and were expected to take up their father’s religious beliefs and values without any fighting or arguing. Emily did not like than she can not chose for herself her own beliefs and religion.

Emily did not enjoy the popularity and excitement of the public life, unlike her father. So she began to pull away from it. In the presence of strangers Emily could be shy, silent or even depreciating. Emily felt that she did not fit in with her and her father’s religion in Amherst especially when he father started to censor the books she read because of their potential to draw her away from faith.

     Emily had no extended exposure to the world outside of her hometown. Besides the one trip she took to Philadelphia (which was only due to her eye problems) and occasional trips to Washington and Boston.

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On her trip to Philadelphia Emily met Charles Wadsworth, a clergyman, who became her “dearest earthly friend”. Just like Emily he was also a solitary, and a romantic person that Emily could confide in when writing her poetry. His religious beliefs also gave Emily a sharp, and often welcome. He was a very influential and was a big source of inspiration and guidance.

     She also met a man by the name of Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who was also very influential to Emily. He advised Dickinson against publishing her poetry, even though he saw the creative originality on her poetry. He remained Emily’s “preceptor” for the rest of her life. But Emily decided against publishing her poems, and as a result only seven of her poems were published in her lifetime (she left behind over 2,000 poems).

     Emily Dickinson was affected by her era. When the United States Civil War broke out there was a lot of emotional confusion, and she began to express this in her poems. Some changes in her poetry came directly as a result of the war. Even though she looked inner and not to the war for the material in her poetry, the tense atmosphere of the war years may have contributed a lot to her writings. After the war she started to look at things through a black vale, and began to be very dark and gloomy. But probably one of her best poems was written during this periods of decline. It was called “A Route of Evanescence”. This poem described the fluttering rise of a humming bird. This unpredictable rise was also the route of experience.

Emily’s life started to go down from this point and nothing good was happening for her anymore. There were many points in her life where she was not happy and actually very few points were she was happy and satisfied with her life. She expressed all this in a poem she writes called “Crumbling in not an instant’s Act”.

This poem’s tells how crumbling does not happen immediately, but in a gradual process occurring slowly over time. The idea that crumbling is progressive is supported when it state “Dilapidation’s Are organized Decays”. This means that crumbling is a result of dilapidation, which is caused by gradual decay. The deterioration that results is progressive: one stage of decay leads to the next until crumbling occurs along and you can’t even help it. In the poem it used the word “ruin”, which is the best word for describing both physical and spiritual falling down. The literal meaning of the poem is simple, ruin does not happen suddenly. It has a gradual process that is a result of gradual decay. Every type of ruin takes time, even though one may take more time than others.

This poem describes Emily’s life. In the beginning, when she was a young child, living at home, she was unhappy with her family and social status. And after turning 30, seldom saw anyone than her immediate family. And this was the beginning of her crumbling; She had many serious eye problems that throughout her life had to get treatments for it. She was never married. She had so many deaths in her family and close friends. So from here we see her gradual decay.

Emily Dickinson was very morbid and wrote a lot about death. Her whole life she lived across the street from a cemetery which can explain why most of her poems are associated with death. She did so also because she spent the later part of her life mourning of the several deaths in her family and of close friends. Her father died in 1874, Samuel Bowles died in 1878, J.G. Holland died in 1881, her nephew Gilbert died in 1883 and both Charles Wadsworth and her mother died in 1882. Over those five years, many of the most influential and precious friendships of Emily’s passed away and that gave way to the obsession of death in her poetry.

One of her poems where she speaks about death is “Because I Could Not Stop for Death”. Here Dickinson tells a story of a woman who is being taken away by death. ”Because I could not stop for death- He kindly stopped for me”. The speaker in the poem tells us that she will not stop for Death but that it will have to come and get her. In the end death came and took her away but it’s pleasant and peaceful. It talks about her way to heaven and that in the beginning she wasn’t ready to die but once it came it wasn’t that bad.

I think that in this poem she is actually talking about her own death. And that she was afraid to die but once it came it wasn’t that bad.

On June 14, 1884 Emily’s obsessions and poetic theory started to come to a stop when she suffered the first attack f her terminal illness. Throughout 1865, Emily was cramped to her bed in her family’s house where she had lived her entire life, and, on May 15 1886, Emily died at the age of 56.

One poems that I came in contact with was called “ I hard a Fly Buzz when I died” and this was one of many where she spoke about death. In this poem it talks about a women who is lying in bed with her family and friends standing all around waiting for her to die. And when is t says “ I heard a fly buzz when I died” is the moment death arrives. And the fly represents the world being left behind. While the dfamily is waiting, she is waiting for “the king”. This symbolizes some sort of god that will take her away. From here we see that the women is distancing herself from her fear of death and detachment or attachment of life. As the women dies, her eyes fail and she saw nothing. The women’s soul drifted off into nothingness because there was no after life for it to travel to. She no longer cared for materialistic things; all she wanted to leave behind was good memories and good thought of her.

The poem represents a typical death seen from Dickinson’s time, it had people surrounding the deathbed looking on and studying the person soul fate. I think that the woman in the poem is actually talking about Emily and the previsions to her death.

Emily Dickinson was considered one of the two most gifted poets (Walt Witman was the other one). She was influenced by the writings of American author Ralph Waldo Emerson. Some people may think Emily Dickinson was a morbid person, but indeed she was only writing about what was going on in her personal life, and what was going on in society at those times.



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