Emily Dickinson



Emily Dickinson


Emily Dickinson was raised in a traditional New England home in the mid
1800\'s. Her father along with the rest of the family had become Christians and
she alone decided to rebel against that and reject the Church. She like many of
her contemporaries had rejected the traditional views in life and adopted the
new transcendental outlook.
Massachusetts, the state where Emily was born and raised in, before the
transcendental period was the epicenter of religious practice. Founded by the
puritans, the feeling of the avenging had never left the people. After all of
the "Great Awakenings" and religious revivals the people of New England began to
question the old ways. What used to be the focal point of all lives was now
under speculation and often doubted. People began to search for new meanings in
life. People like Emerson and Thoreau believed that answers lie in the
individual. Emerson set the tone for the era when he said, "Whoso would be a
[hu]man, must be a non-conformist." Emily Dickinson believed and practiced this
philosophy.
When she was young she was brought up by a stern and austere father. In
her childhood she was shy and already different from the others. Like all the
Dickinson children, male or female, Emily was sent for formal education in
Amherst Academy. After attending Amherst Academy with conscientious thinkers
such as Helen Hunt Jackson, and after reading many of Emerson\'s essays, she
began to develop into a free willed person. Many of her friends had converted
to Christianity, her family was also putting enormous amount of pressure for her
to convert. No longer the submissive youngster she would not bend her will on
such issues as religion, literature and personal associations.
She maintained a correspondence with Rev. Charles Wadsworth over a
substantial period of time. Even though she rejected the Church as a entity she
never did reject or accept God. Wadsworth appealed to her because he had an
incredibly powerful mind and deep emotions. When he left the East in 1861 Emily
was scarred and expressed her deep sorrow in three successive poems in the
following years. They were never romantically involved but their relationship
was apparently so profound that Emily\'s feelings for him she sealed herself from
the outside world.
Her life became filled with gloom and despair until she met Judge Otis P.
Lord late in her life. Realizing that they were well into their lives they
never were married. When Lord passed away Emily\'s health condition which has
been hindered since childhood worsened.
In Emily\'s life the most important things to her were love, religion,
individuality and nature. When discussing these themes she followed her
lifestyle and broke away from traditional forms of writing and wrote with an
intense energy and complexity never seen before and rarely seen today. She was
a rarity not only because of her poetry but because she was one of the first
female pioneers into the field of poetry.
Emily often speaks of love in her poems, but she did it in such a way
that would make people not want to fall in love. She writes of parting,
separation and loss. This is supported by the experiences she felt with
Wadsworth and Otis P. Lord.

Not with a club the heart is broken,
nor with a stone;
A whip so small you could not see it,

I\'ve known This seems to be an actual account of the emotions she
experienced during her relationship with Otis Lord.
Individuality played a pervasive role in her life as a result of her
bout with separation. Emily did not conform to society. She did not believe it
was society\'s place to dictate to her how she should lead her life. Her poems
reflect this sense of rebellion and revolution against tradition.

From all the jails the boys and girls
Ecstatically leap,-
Beloved, only afternoon

That prison doesn\'t keep. In this poem Emily shows her feelings
towards formalized schooling. Being a product of reputable college one
would think that she would be in favor of this. But as her beliefs in
transcendentalism grew so did her belief in individuality.
Emily also went against the Church which was an extreme rarity of the
time. Similar to many other that shared her beliefs she too did not think that
a set religion was the way for salvation.

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church;
I keep it staying at home,
With a bobolike for a chorister,

With an orchard for a dome. According