Exposing the Hypocrisy of Religion in
Emily Dickinson’s “Some keep the Sabbath going to Church-“ Who does society consider the faithful? Is it the man on the street corner screaming for everyone to repent their sins before the apocalypse? Is it the zealot who straps a bomb to his body, and walks into a crowded marketplace? Is it the monk who renounces all his worldly possessions, and takes refuge in a monastery? While these may be extreme examples of the faithful, they all have one thing in common; they are conveying their devotion in their own way. It doesn’t matter who people choose as their god, be it Allah, Buddha, Jesus or Vishnu. The one common aspect of every religion is that you worship. Congregations around the world are supposed to prove their faith by worshipping at their local synagogue, church, or mosque. A place of worship can be a huge monstrosity of a building, or a small clapboard house in the middle of a cornfield. It doesn’t matter where you worship, what matters is that you be present to worship. In Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Some keep the Sabbath going to Church-“; the speaker conveys her faith and devotion in God by communing with nature, therefore creating her own church at home. By juxtaposing the solemnity of worship with the natural beauty of one’s backyard, Dickinson questions the hypocrisy of conventional religion.
The first quatrain sets the tone for the poem:
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church-
I keep it, staying at Home-
With a Bobolink for a Chorister-
And an Orchard, for a Dome- (1-4)
The first word of the poem is a slight to society; the “Some” in question are the people who feel they must abide by society’s conventions, and attend church to exhibit their piousness. Hypocrites and doubters attend church because it is what is expected of them, and they must maintain the façade. In this one word Dickinson is able to illustrate how “Some” people buckle under the pressure of conformity....