Emily Dickinson

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“Those who feel isolated, feel it but are not always alone.” Discuss this statement in relation to your understanding of belonging as represented in the three poems that we have completed.

The famous poet, Emily Dickinson is known to have lived her life as a recluse and a number of her poems, such as “I gave myself to him”, “This is my letter to the world” and “A word dropped careless on a page”, from Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson by James Reeves, focus on the feelings of isolation she experienced and as a consequence not belonging in her own society of mid-nineteenth century America. However, “those who feel isolated, feel it but are not always alone”. An individual may have feelings of isolation due to a lack of personal connections and satisfying relationships, when physically they are surrounded by others. Isolation is not only a physical concept but can be applied to an absence of positive relationships on an emotional level. “I gave myself to him” explores marriage and how it is similar to a business transaction, “This is my letter to the world” is a personal letter to the world she feels disconnected and alienated from and “A word dropped careless on a page” details Dickinson criticising her critics. These poems all explore some aspects of isolation, even though the poems incorporate other people.

Dickinson’s poem “I gave myself to him” explores the relationship of marriage and how it is not dissimilar to a business transaction through an extended metaphor and use of symbolism. In the poem, marriage represents belonging and Dickinson is conveying how in order to belong, a sacrifice must be made. This is demonstrated with the first line, “I gave myself to him”. In return for that sacrifice, belonging is achieved with the following line “and took himself for pay”. In effectively conveying her point, Dickinson has used financial terminology throughout as a way of reinforcing the business like nature of marriage. Dickinson uses vocabulary such as...
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