Anne Bradstreet and Emily Dickinson are both respected women poets in their own rights. Although in different manners, both poets discuss their poetry within their poetry. Bradstreet and Dickinson, as poets, were able to break free of male oppression and literary traditions of the period, to portray their emotions and imagination through their works, expressing their freedom and the construction of being a poet within the works. Dickinson and Bradstreet, however, wrote during different periods, where their styles greatly differed.
During the period in which Bradstreet published her works, males were the driving force in literature. For a woman to be publishing in the 1600s was very rare. Although schoolgirls during the period were encouraged to read and become educated at a basic level, these endeavors were not intended to produce women in the intellectual sphere. Rather, this education was to allow them an intellectual and spiritual quest, at the conclusion of which, the women were expected to stay in their designated place in society. Their “quest” was deemed of a lesser value than a male’s because women were not given as many benefits as men. Anne not only had to confront this opposition during her career, but she also faced creative differences among her peers. Many of the writers from the late 1600s were writing theoretical works about divine will, the universal order of life, and God’s justness. Bradstreet differed yet again from them, using emotion and imagination to fuel her works--something very new to that period. Since Bradstreet allows more emotion to come through in her works than some men, she appears very private at times, while still focusing on the topic of her work, sometimes including historical commentaries. Bradstreet’s use of pronouns such as I, me, and my in her poetry also differ from the masculine writers of her period. Since Bradstreet allowed her emotions and imagination to rule her works, this easily portrayed the freedom and construction in being a poet in her works. Dickinson, however, wrote for herself, and only planned to publish little of her writings. Dickinson was formally educated beyond the level many male of female Americans achieved in the 1800s (Norton 2488). This placed Emily intellectually above much of her male counterparts. She also differed from them in style, using different meter and rhyme while adding unique style of punctuation.
Dickinson’s powerful emotions can be perceived in poem 441, where she speaks of her own writings within her poetry.
“This is my letter to the World
That never wrote to Me--
The simple News that Nature told--
With tender Majesty/
Her Message is committed
To Hands I cannot see—
For love of Her—Sweet—countrymen—
Judge tenderly—of Me”
(Dickinson 2503, ln 1-8).
Dickinson’s letter is to the world, which ignores her, tells of Nature’s message about her works, and asks the world to...