EN 209 Lecture Notes - Lecture 28: Transcendentalism, Signify

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Emily Dickinson
*String of feminism in her writing
Success is counted sweetest
Accomplishments that required effort and work mean more to us than those that
took no effort.
Title divine is mine
Discusses the institution of marriage and the old-fashioned notion that a woman’s
sense of identity depends on who she’s married to.
Dickinson challenges this mindset.
“Born—Bridalled—/ Shrouded—/In a day/Tri-Victory—” (lines 14-17).
Born as this idea that you aren’t complete until you’re married.
Bridalled is a pun to bridled , which is a horse’s harness.
Shroud is something that covers the face at funerals. A veil is what is worn
at a wedding. Association with death is to signify the loss of her own
identity.
Word choice is intentional sarcasm.
“‘My Husband’ / Women say / Stroking the melody, / Is this the way?” (ln 18-21).
Commenting on whether this is the only way for a woman to achieve her
identity.
“Faith” is a fine invention
Finding the balance between faith and science.
I taste a liquor never brewed
This poem has heavy influence from Emerson’s transcendentalism
Dickinson plays with the metaphor of being drunk on nature
“Inebriate of air – am I – / And Debauchee of Dew” (lines 5-6).
Inebriate = drunk
Debauchery = excess of pleasure
I’m wife, I’ve finished that
This is another commentary on the institution of marriage
Written from the perspective of a woman who has just gotten married
She looks back on her previous life while single
“How odd the girl’s life looks / Behind this soft eclipse!” (lines 5-6).
Refers to her previous life before marriage.
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