Emily Dickinson Essay

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It is assumed by the reader that a bird is the embodiment of hope when Emily Dickinson states, "…that could abash the little bird," and because of this an important question to ask is why Dickinson chooses a bird to be the symbol of hope in her poem: "‘Hope' is the thing with feathers—" (7). Each metaphor in Dickinson's work presents another physical aspect of birds that can be paralleled to the spiritual effects that hope has on a human being. These physical aspects include the ability to fly, the resilient ability to sing even through the stormiest of weather, and the inability of birds to communicate through words or other unambiguous interactions. The physical characteristics of birds metaphorically illustrate the difficulty experienced when trying to express hope in terms of an abstract feeling, and the effectiveness of a physical parallel in representing an abstract idea. Many similes arise from the first metaphor of the feathers: "Hope is the thing with feathers" (1). At first glance, there is the more obvious significance of feathers— they give birds the ability to combat air resistance and fly. Feathers act as a constructive, helpful attribute in a bird's composition. This first line can therefore be restated, as "hope is the thing with a positive power that renders it constructive or helpful." It is the definition of hope itself— to look forward to with confidence or expectation—that explains how hope is a helpful and positive emotion. Confidence and expectation arise from the feeling of hope and are helpful in a human being's quest for happiness just as feathers are helpful in a bird's flight The characteristic of birds singing without words also parallels hope. The line that reads "and sings the tune without the words"— questions as to why Hope sings the tune without the words? (3). Here Dickinson is trying to explain the intangible quality of hope; like many other feelings, it need not be expressed in words. The Bird of Hope perches in...
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