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Influence Of Emily Dickinson’s Life On Her Work

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Everyone has a different story, no one life is exactly the same and this contributes to the different influences we will have in our lives. Emily Dickinson known as one of America’s greatest poets lived quite an interesting life and her life greatly influenced her work. Born in Amherst Massachusetts, Emily Dickson was born into a family with strong ties to the community, she studied at the Amherst Academy for seven years and briefly attended the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary and returned back to her home. After that she lived a simple life in isolation. The philosophical poets of the seventeenth century and her reading of the bible specifically the Book of Revelation mainly influenced her work. Additionally, her background and growing up in a Puritan town in New England greatly influenced the majority of her work, she was also encouraged by an orthodox, conservative way to Christianity. Emily Dickinson lived a hard life and suffered psychological sicknesses, she lived at a time when women were not supposed to have talents in writing thus what she achieved was considered exemplary. There were many things that influenced her work and we can see her life experiences reflected in things such as language, stylistic characteristics, and themes she used.

Emily Dickinson lived a simple life in isolation. “Her family had strong feelings about being loyal to each other thus explaining why Emily chose to isolate herself from the rest of the world” (Farr, 3). Just like John Keats Emily was passionate in her living despite living in her seclusion and among only friends and family her work exhibited whole hearted intensity in thought and it was reflected in the quality of her work as well. Her life experiences affected her style of writing in terms of the language, stylistic devices and the themes she adopted. In the process of looking for things in her heart, Emily not only distilled inessential language but also distilled some of the punctuations in her poems. The majority of her poems were characterized by left out auxiliary verbs and some connecting words while in others Emily would drop her endings from nouns and even verbs. Some of her poems had pronouns which were not clear with some words that would not be in the poem at all. However, she does that to achieve certain impacts through compressed language. Also she disregarded rules of grammar and sentence structures making her work appealing in the modern poetic world. Indeed, the exclusion of certain words could be attributed to her seclusion from people (Charyn 43). Thus, one danger of her seclusion was that she might have begun creating meanings of words privately which other people may not know. As a result, instead of communicating these words often baffles and makes it challenging for readers. She also enjoyed words for their sake such as “Pain has an element of blank” or Hope is the thing with feathers” which gave her poems their forms.

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By choosing to live within her home Emily brought her life into a sharp focus which meant she had chosen to live within the expanses of her imagination which she was very much aware and described in one of her poems and said “I dwell in possibility” (Wolff and Betty, 7). The small circle within which she enjoyed life meant she had to live without certain things but through that she redefined deprivation since had she got love, or faith then better understanding would not have been achieved. She says “heaven is what I cannot reach” while words such as “Success is counted sweetest by those who ne’er succeed” (Wolff and Betty, 99). It is through irony, ambiguity and paradox that she explained her experiences with her poems filled with small animals like bees, domestic items and winter lights which were materials she could see within the confined house of her father.

In explaining her inner world Emily uses drama to explain her inner consciousness with such case being when she describes the danger of loneliness she faced. She says “the depths in every consciousness from which we cannot rescue ourselves—to which none can go with us” (Lettere, 1878). Another common theme in her poems is death which she personifies in her poems such as suitor and tyrant which was a result of Puritan belief which she held from her upbringing. God and religion themes were concerns throughout Emily’s life. Since her childhood during school days Emily had a family that tried to give her a sense of being saved but she never felt that call which caused her disquiet and pain. As a result themes of God and religion in her poems showed friendliness to God sometimes and other times anger and bitterness such as “Heaven fumbles at your spirit” “Heaven is what I cannot reach” (Goddu 4-18).

Emily’s poetry work is a true reflection of the life she had been brought up in ranging from her family who strictly followed Puritan culture to her isolation which gave her time to write and reflect on her work. Indeed, there were many things that influenced her work and we can see her life experiences reflected in things such as language, stylistic characteristics, and themes she used. In terms of language Emily would disregard certain words indicating the life of loneliness she had experienced while she used irony, ambiguity and paradox styles to explain her experiences within her surroundings. Her work was filled with life experience themes such as inner consciousness, death, love and religion.

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Influence Of Emily Dickinson’s Life On Her Work. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from
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