Emily Dickinson, born 10 December 1830, is known for her compassionate, complex, and powerful style of poetry in the 1800s. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, Dickinson began her life as a poet in her early teen years. Emily was the he second child of Edward and Emily Norcoss Dickinson, and the sister to Austin and Lavinia Dickinson. The 1800s poet led a life of seclusion, writing over 1800 poems throughout her lifetime.
Though, despite the achievement, only seven were published. Dickinson’s literary workings were regarded as idiotic, attracting early scholars to criticize her efforts and her education. Despite early criticism, she is now considered the most influential female poet of her time, winning recognition for her obscene form. The cultural significance of Emily Dickinson’s work and life have triggered debates, past and present, concerning her poetry, gender and sexuality, and education, or lack thereof. Thus, in this case proposes Emily Dickinson through evidenceas a revolutionary woman of her time, and a great influence on poetry and writing of the modern era.
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After Emily Dickinson’s publish upon the literary horizon in this decade, she was addressed as a discovery of twentieth century critics. The revelation of an overlooked genius is always a pleasure, since it reveals not only the excellence of our own taste but also the obtuseness of someone else. Therefore, when in 1924 Conrad Aiken called hers perhaps the finest poetry by a woman in the English language, the book reviewers, at least, were inclined to overlook the fact that William Dean Howells had spoken similarly of it in 1891:
If nothing else had come out of our life but this strange poetry, we should feel that in the work of Emily Dickinson, America, or New England rather, had made a distinctive addition to the literature of the world, and could not be left out of any record of it. This poetry is as characteristic of our life as our business enterprise, our political turmoil, our demagogism or our millionaires.
The idea of women’s writing in the 19th century was not a new phenomenon. Several male authors of the time readily agreed with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s condemnation of the mob of scribbling women, while some renowned literary magazines, like the North American Review, refused to carry more than a limited number of poems by women. The critics of 1840 began arguing that women were attending a school of poetry based on feminine characteristics and ideas. Produced [poetry] absolutely without the thought of publication, and solely by way of expression of the writer’s own mind. This idea implied that women lacked both proficiency and personal motivation but deemed the selflessness writings by women honorable. Additionally, many believed a woman’s leading inspiration for writing was the desire to bring happiness, comfort, and moral enlightenment to others’ lives. Women were expected to conform to societal laws by writing about issues that spring exclusively from their personal experiences. Despite this expectation, their affections had to be general enough to fulfill the motivational goal that could excuse the immodesty of posing in public. Critic Thomas Wentworth Higginson expressed the cultural idea of femininity in the image of the Invisible Lady, as:
The Invisible Lady, as advertised in all our cities a good many years ago, was a mysterious individual who remained unseen, and had no human organs except a brain and a tongue. You asked questions of her, and she made intelligent answers; but where she was, you could no more discover than you could find the man inside the Automaton Chess-Player. Was she intended as a satire on womankind, or a sincere representation of what womankind should be?
The extent to which Dickinson was engaged in exposing the drama of the female subject’s alternation between acceptance and critiquing conventions is not at all restricted to the few poems style. Though shying asway from daily government and popular reform movements, Dickinson sets a prosperous revolt. Through her idiosyncratic language, which subliminally fought the social conformity agenda enacted on white middle-class American women. Her language takes no significance, let alone definition at face value: it explores veiled semantic realms, and the connotational. This language use denies commitment to any fixed meaning but presents meaning in constant circulation. Since the terms used by Emily are often basic categories of social consensus, her idiosyncratic gesture suggests a radical challenge to the assumption that socially approved definitions would be natural, or God-given, in any case, superior to her individual reading. Thus, offering the possibility of modification and undividable freedom through a resisting reader’s gesture that invites a radical revising of the social contract.
Furthermore, the widespread reception of socially authorized, non-sexual “romantic friendships” between women during the 19th century has deceptively caused even modern feminist critics to dismiss the possibility of sensible eroticism or sexuality between women of the Dickinson’s era. However, a recent critical doubt about taking these idealized representations of “romantic friendship” at face value should open the door to rethinking the relationship between Emily and Susan Dickinson. The assumption that Dickinson was unaware of her desire for Susan undoubtedly contradicts the written evidence in her Antony and Cleopatra references.
Furthermore, Dickinson’s meditative translation of her homosexual desire in the letters and verses written to Susan Dickinson puts her much more securely in the tradition of later American homosexual writers. When reading Emily Dickinson with an open-mind, one can carefully understand the message she conveys when she likens her relationship with Susan to that between Antony and Cleopatra. Nonetheless, Dickinson uses the theme and symbolism of sexuality in much of her work, as master. This notion provides important and noteworthy evidence in revealing much of her puzzling verses by broadening our conceptions of nineteenth-century women’s sexuality.
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