dickenson - the subsequent stanzas serve as a criticism of...

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Can you locate a poem in this selection that you believe reflects American-ness, histroy, or American values as you understand them to have prevailed in New England in the late nineteenth century? In other words, although many have termed Dickinson as "internal"* and "a-historical" in her vision and scope, can you find evidence in any of her poems of her being a part (or even product) of her time and place? Poem number 401 establishes Dickenson as a product of her time and place with regards to the perceived inferiority of women that was a staple of her era. In today's day and age, women enjoy freedoms that simply did not exist more than one hundred years ago. Although there is still some gender discrimination, the inferiority of women was widespread and accepted by the general population in America. In this poem, Dickenson clearly expresses this generalized view of women in the first stanza, while
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Unformatted text preview: the subsequent stanzas serve as a criticism of this perception. In the first stanza, Dickenson uses such descriptive words as "Cherubic" and "Gentlewomen" to demonstrate the softness and delicacy of women; she goes on to compare mistreatment of women to "assault[ing] a Plush -- or violat[ing] a Star." These two references indicate a clear negative connotation associated with treating women as anything but delicate in her society. Immediately after this, she refers to this delicate view as "a horror of freckled human nature" and twice makes a statement regarding how ashamed people are of women. Her description of the common perception of women as being brittle and so utterly worthless in society clearly demonstrates that she is indeed a part of her time and place in history rather than entirely internal, as some may think....
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This note was uploaded on 01/18/2010 for the course ENGLIT 0500 taught by Professor Andrade during the Spring '08 term at Pittsburgh.

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