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Emily Dickenson Essay

3148 words - 13 pages

Emily Dickinson, Beloved Recluse of Amherst Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts where she spent most of her life. She was the middle child of Edward and Emily Norcross Dickinson having and older brother, Austin and a younger sister, Lavinnia, lovingly called Vinnie (http://occ.awlonline.com/bookbind/pubbooks/kennedycompact_awl/chapter15/deluxe.html). Hers was a prominent family in Amherst, very educated and active in the community. Emily, influenced by this, became a prolific writer of verse. However, her family did not know to what extent until after her death when Vinnie found over 1700 poems that Emily had written (http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~emilypg/1813.html). There was also an oddity to Emily that no one could quite figure out. Perhaps delving into her surroundings and some of her literary works, we can draw our own conclusions about Emily.Emily's father and paternal grandfather were both lawyers and had a tremendous impact on the Amherst community as well as on Emily. Grandfather Samuel Fowler Dickinson served terms in political offices in Amherst, established Amherst Academy in 1814, and in 1821 he helped co-found the "College of Charitable Institution," known today as Amherst College. Samuel served as Treasurer of the college for many years during which time he mortgaged, and eventually lost, his home on Main Street when the college fell on hard financial times (http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/emilypg/1813.html).Emily's father attended Amherst Academy and later went to Yale where he obtained a law degree in 1826. Edward came back to Amherst where he established a successful law practice (http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/emilypg/1813.html). Edward was able to purchase back part of the old homestead his father had built and eventually purchased it in its entirety (Fisher 31, 82).Emily's father, Edward was known in town for his strong work ethics and involvement in community affairs. He helped bring the railroad to Amherst in 1853 and served as Chief Marshall for the town the day the tracks were opened. He was twice elected president of the Amherst railroad (66).He was active in church affairs all his adult life even though he did not become a member of the Congregational Church until 1850 when there was a great revival period in Amherst (37). Edward eventually served a term in Congress and served as the Treasurer of Amherst College for twenty years (53).Emily had always loved her father but was in awe of him and at times felt alienated from him. Being a shy, timid child I feel the alienation she felt toward her father helped contribute toward her social withdrawal in later years. The following excerpt from a letter to her brother Austin, sums up the conflict that Emily felt with her father: "When I know of anything funny, I am just as apt to cry, far more than to laugh, for I know who loves jokes best, and who is not here to enjoy them. We dont have any jokes tho' now, it is pretty much all...

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