finalpaper - Harvey Sham May 4 2007 EN 220 Professor Lee...

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Harvey Sham May 4, 2007 EN 220 Professor Lee Dickinson’s Immortality Emily Dickinson must be prophetic when she writes in one of her letters, “[i]t is finished can never be said of us” (Sewall, 5). Any respectable literary mind will agree that these words can never be spoken of her. Her poetry has been constantly analyzed and scrutinized, yet it all leads to one simple reality: that the true nature of her words cannot be fully understood. She was born in Amherst, Massachusetts and died there after spending a large portion of her life devoid of any social interests. Her choice for isolation has undergone enormous speculation because critics believe that the inspiration for many of her works stems from her seclusion. Dickinson may have increasingly valued her own thoughts and beliefs and considered them more superior then others, placing herself in a scholastic field greater then those around her. Conrad Aiken, a critic of Dickinson, claims that the poet “lacked the courage…in search of companionship” and in relation to this suggests that “her extreme self-seclusion and secrecy was both a protest and a display” (Aiken, 12) of the society in which she was trapped in. Her initial intention in isolation was not to rebel, but the manner of nineteenth century New England leaned “toward external uniformity, which is usually the measure of the spiritual sterility inside” and motivated her to address the religious concerns of society (Tate, 18). Also a prominent abstract in her poetry that still has no clear definition in modern society is death and the problem of life after death. Aiken suggests that these issues haunted her, “the preoccupation, with its horrible uncertainties—its doubts about immortality, its hatred of the flesh, and its many reversals of both positions” are found in a vast majority of her 1
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literary work (Aiken, 15). Dickinson rebels against the nature of society at the time
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