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Emily Dickinson's Living Death Essay

1563 words - 6 pages

Emily Dickinson was born December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts to a governing father and an almost non-existent mother. Her father was a lawyer, a legislator and a rigorous Calvinist. Although her father had strong faith in God, Dickinson declined to pronounce herself as a believing Christian in her late teens. In her younger years Dickinson considered herself different because she was shy and sensitive (Emily Dickinson’s Life and Work). Dickinson and her younger sister Lavinia started their education at Amherst Academy. Dickinson spent seven years at the academy. After finishing her final term at the Academy in the August 1847, Dickinson began attending South Hadley Seminary for Women, now know as Mount Holyoke College, about ten miles from Amherst. She stayed at the seminary for only ten months. According to The Academy of American Poets article, the explanation for her short duration at the seminary was severe homesickness. Regardless of the specific reason for leaving South Hadley, she was brought back home to Amherst (
Dickinson was troubled from a young age by death, especially the deaths of those who were close to her. When her second cousin and close friend, Sophia Holland, grew ill from typhus and died in 1844, Dickinson was distressed. She became so unhappy that her parents sent her to stay with family in Boston to recover. After recovering, she came back to Amherst to finish her time at the academy ( In “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain,” the speaker shows that death is a numbing experience. Death is reflected everywhere in Emily Dickinson’s poetry; she lived shadowed by death; she was a hermit; her home was a casket from which she rarely left; she, as a living death, wrote about her life, a death.
Emily Dickinson withdrew from society around 1860. Dickinson lived in almost total physical isolation from the outside world. According to Masako Takeda, The cause for Dickinson’s seclusion was that she suffered a broken heart by Reverend Charles Wadsworth. Dickinson spent the majority of her days alone in her house until the year 1861 when she completely secluded herself and her poetry from the rest of the world. Dickinson’s seclusion from society was the time when she really picked up her writing. June 16, 1874, her father Edward Dickinson died after a stroke. She didn’t attend the funeral; instead she stayed in her room only. This loss pushed her further into seclusion (Takeda).
Known for her seclusion from the outer world and introvert nature, Dickinson gave her poetry a unique touch. Dickinson is a major figure in American literature; in her review of the Dickinson Electronic Archives, Martha Smith says, “She is widely regarded as the quintessential American poet, and her work a foundation upon which twentieth-century American poetry is built” (Smith). This is because of Dickinson’s unique style of writing for her era. Her poems were generally written in short lines and lacked titles. It was uncommon in...

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