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Emily Dickinson - "I'M Nobody! Who Are You?"

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Emily Dickinson - "I'M Nobody! Who Are You?"

  • October 2008
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“I’m Nobody! Who are You?” is a poem written by Emily Dickinson. The poem conveys the main idea of being alone, isolated from the society – or being “nobody”. This is partly influenced by the social gender status of Dickinson’s time – 19th century featured the inequality of sexes, where females were expected to stay at home and serve their husbands, thus disconnected from the society. As a result Dickinson had adapted and perhaps taken pleasure into being an outsider, whilst she found it boring to be part of the society – or to be a “somebody”. These are all various ideas reflected through Emily Dickinson’s poem.

The poem has 2 stanzas - very typical of Emily Dickinson’s style. Her choice of language in this poem is also very simple and succinct – but at the same time meaningful and pithy. The first line, “I’m nobody!”, shows how Dickinson admits to be a “nobody” willingly. Being a “nobody” can mean an outsider – a person who is isolated, alienated from the rest of the world and society. The second phrase of the line – “Who are you?” shows that the poem is directly written to a target. This person – shown on the second line of the first stanza, is a “nobody” too – perhaps even a friend of Dickinson. The poet also realizes the fact that being a “nobody” is to be loathed by the society. This is shown in line 3, when she advises the other “nobody” not to tell, as she states in line 4 “They’d banish us”. The word “They” in the beginning of lines 3 and 4 suggests the rest of the society – people who are “somebody”, as opposed to Dickinson’s “nobody’. The use of dash in line 3 shows the furtiveness of the phrase “don’t tell!”, emphasizing the hatred or dislike they face from the society. The same effect is achieved by the use of exclamation mark in line 3. Lines 3 and 4 can also be interpreted as that after she finds another “nobody”, they are a pair – not longer belong to a group of “nobodies”. She does not want to be banished from the status of being “nobodies”....

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