Poets and authors create their works of literature considering the cultural tendencies of the epoch and personal experiences. Thus, each writer has a unique and differentiating style that allows recognizing him or her among others. Emily Dickinson is an extraordinary poet because she isolated herself from society and was in seclusion starting from the early adulthood period. Even though she was not very popular during her lifetime, most of her poems were found and published after her death. Emily Dickinson was one of the most prominent American writers who mainly focused on nature, religion, and death themes which fit the period of the Later Romantics.
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As Dickinson was irritated with human society, she found her refuge in nature, which was reflected in her poems. Contrasting to other writers of the Romanticism period, she used the rat, the mushroom, the bat, the fly, the frog, the snake, and the stones as symbolic representations of nature (Amitabh 215). Nevertheless, those elements were usually avoided by romantics and ignored by moralists Dickinson plunged into the parallel world when it concerned nature, adored all its manifestations, and compared it with the human essence. In fact, “nature became the link between herself and the external world” (Amitabh 216).
Her works affirm that peace in the world is possible only when the powers are balanced. It correlates with the themes of feminism in the author’s pieces of literature. At the end of the nineteenth century, women were underprivileged and usually oppressed, while men enjoyed all the benefits. Therefore, most of Dickinson’s poems were heavily edited to conceal their true meaning.
Another prevalent theme utilized by the author concerns religion, gospels, and spiritual practices. Emily Dickinson comes from the Puritan family whose ancestors migrated from England to the United States several centuries ago. The Puritans are characterized by rigorous religious discipline and the purity of worship. Their practices also influence other spheres of life and impose restrictions on common activities.
Such traditions are also incorporated in the author’s works where Dickinson questions the mission of each human in the world and the separation of body and soul. The poet turns to the Christian tradition of the eternal life pursuit by the Calvinists and Transcendentalists (Song and Chen 53). Owing to the Calvinism philosophy, Dickinson “learnt about the survival of the soul and was curious to know how that was possible” (Alqaryouti and Sadeq 20). Therefore, the theme of religion often intersected with the motives of death.
The poet’s obsession with death is evident in many literary works, which can be explained by the tragic events Dickinson encountered in her life. Even though she was isolated from society, spent most of the time in the parental home, and communicated with friends mostly with the help of letters, it was difficult for her to pass through numerous losses. That is why Dickinson describes various emotional responses to death and enables the reader to view it from a different perspective (Alqaryouti and Sadeq 16).
The poem I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died explains that there is life after death. Another literary work Because I Could Not Stop for Death illustrates death in a romanticized way, indicating its patience and respect (Alqaryouti and Sadeq 17). Dickinson usually emphasized that death was not something tragic, but it is the time for a soul to transfer to another dimension and continue the path of eternal life.
Apart from unusual themes, this author can be characterized by a unique writing style. Typically for that period, some passages in Dickinson’s works “offer apt illustrations of the romantic tendency to indulge in the hyperbole of emotionalism” (Amitabh 217). She used conventional language in her works to describe abstract concepts with simple words. That is why it was easy to grasp the idea of each poem, but some names and notions remained symbolic, allowing the reader to elaborate on the interpretation. Moreover, Dickinson did not provide titles to poems as she was convinced they had no sense.
There is no doubt that Dickinson made a significant contribution to American literature. Some experts consider that she could control the English language as well as Shakespeare did (Song and Chen 51). Furthermore, her poems are a recollection of tranquility which corresponds to the popular concepts of the Romanticism period (Amitabh 213). Dickinson was not obsessed with popularity but rather wanted to express her thoughts and feelings in the literary works. That is why she published only several poems during her life, while most of them were found and edited after the poet’s death.
Even though Emily Dickinson is associated with the period of Late Romantics, her works comprise characteristic features. The author preferred seclusion and minimal social interactions, which was also reflected in her literary masterpieces. She incorporated the themes of nature and religion in the poems but was strongly obsessed with death in poetry. This subject was prevailing in Dickinson’s poems because of numerous tragic events that happened to her family members and friends. The author also used conventional language to describe complex notions with simple words, which made her writing style unique.
Alqaryouti, Marwan, and Ala Eddin Sadeq. “Vision of Death in Emily Dickinson’s Selected Poems.” Asian Social Science, vol. 13, no. 5, 2017, pp. 16-23.
Amitabh, Roy. “Emily Dickinson as a Poet of Nature and Love.” International Journal of English Language, Literature and Humanities, vol. 3, no. 4, 2015, pp. 212-219.
Song, Mengqi, and Liping Chen. “On Characteristics of Emily Dickinson’s Death Poems.” International Journal of Secondary Education, vol. 5, no. 4, 2017, pp. 51-55.