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The Life And Works Of Emily Dickinson

Essay, Research Paper

The Life and Works of Emily Dickinson Emily Dickinson was a very important person in the world of writing. She has much to do with the way that Americans write and the way that millions of others write today. Emily Dickinson lived a hard life; it is believed that she suffered from various psychological illnesses. As a result she always used her poetry to express herself. Emily lived in a time where women were not supposed to have such a great writing talent, therefore everything she achieved was well earned.Emily Dickinson was born December 10, 1830. Her family was very close knit, due to the fact that her father always wanted his family around him. This results in the family feeling a great loyalty to one another. The negative side to this is that some of the family members knew only life inside the family, leading some of them, especially Emily, to feel the need to isolate themselves from the rest of the world (Farr, 3). In order to understand some of the feelings Dickinson expresses and to learn how she chose to live her life affected her unique poetic style. It is important to look at her life before she began to write and the atmosphere she grew up in (Wolff, 20).Emily Dickinson s background is one of a strict Puritan family s. Emily s family life was typical to those of that time. Her father, Squire Edward Dickinson, a strict Puritan father and an attorney at law, was the head of the family, providing a roof and three hot meals a day for his family. Dickinson’s father, Edward, served his town in a number of ways. He served as the treasurer of Amherst College (their grandfather had helped establish the college) and being a lawyer, he helped various Amherst citizens in their legal matters. Her mother played the role of the female well, weak and passive; she did the dishes, cooked the meals, and took care of her husband and children, she was a typical housewife (Bloom, 4).Young Emily s behavior was quite normal when she was a little girl. Dickinson had a younger sister, Lavinia, who seemed to serve as a type of watchdog for her shy, sensitive and sometimes rebellious sister, and an older brother Austin who followed in his father s shadow and eventually became a lawyer. Emily attended school at the normal age, and was a bright young student. Emily was very shy all throughout her childhood. After she was through with grammar school at Amherst Academy, Emily went on to Mount Holyoke Seminary to attain a college education (Phillips, 12).After two years of college, Dickinson began to write sketches of poems on the backs of recipes and used envelopes. By 1858, she started to copy her poems in ink and gathered them in little packets loosely bound by thread. Dickinson only considered publication once in 1862 but decided not to. (Wolff, 99)Unfortunately, Emily had many problems in school due to several problems she developed at a young age having to do with anxiety. Emily became extremely shy and very subconscious, she would often exclude herself from the rest of the school (Phillips, 21).

Some people believe that some of Emily s psychological problems came from a disappointment in love, and many other possibilities. Records show that Emily was never married. There are some stories that she was in love with a married man. It is also thought that Emily was hurt very badly in a relationship. Perhaps she had gotten pregnant and had an abortion. Another theory is that Emily might have been a lesbian, and due to her strict religion, she could never act on her sexual impulses and urges. She had many conflicting ideas on how to grow up. (Bennett, 12)Emily s life as an adult was spent at home at almost every hour of the day, every day of the week, every week of the month, and every month of year. As she grew up, Emily almost never left the house. She slowly drifted away from society (Phillips, 4).Even though Emily did drift away from society, she still had some friends. One of her closest friends was Susan Gilbert, who later became Emily s sister-in-law when she married Emily s brother, Austin Dickinson. Emily had another friend in her adult life and that was Helen Hunt Jackson. Emily sent all the poems and other literature she had ever written to Helen (Wolff, 6). Helen Hunt Jackson tried to persuade Emily into publishing her works saying You are a great poet, and it is wrong to the day you live in, that you will not sing aloud. When you are what men call dead, you will be sorry that you were so stingy. (Bennett, 3)Emily s poems were the most amazing part about her life. Emily used a writing style that was new for the time and was very unique (Farr, 5). Emily wrote about four things: love, death, pain, and the self. The most captivating and puzzling poems are those concerning death. Many people are interested with the fact that Emily wrote so extraordinarily about death. Dickinson grew obsessed with death and most of her friends departed. Nevertheless, she pressed on writing poems that would send chills up a reader’s spine (Wolff, 7).Emily s poems were eventually publicized, but only after her death. After the death of Emily Elizabeth Dickinson in 1888, her friend Helen Hunt Jackson gathered up all her works and published them in two separate books (Phillips, 8). Emily lived in a time where women were not supposed to have such a great writing talent as she did; therefore everything she achieved was well earned. Emily Dickinson was by far one of the most influential female poets that this country, perhaps even this world, has ever seen. Her poems have moved many millions of Americans and other people of other races. Her hardships throughout her life were many, but she always had her poetry. Emily Dickinson was and is a person to admire and respect.