"Hope" Is the Thing with Feathers: Emily Dickinson

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Hannah Hulvey
English II
Balint
22 April, 2013

"Hope" is the thing with feathers: Emily Dickinson
In this poem, Emily is saying how nature is divided or basically, she employs images from nature for contrasting purposes. In this poem nature is both beneficent and destructive. The division is made between the image of the bird and the images of threatening storms and hostile environments. This split corresponds to a separation between inside and outside, between interior and exterior spaces.

The major theme of this poem is that Dickinson is comparing the hope in the soul with a bird. The bird never stops singing. So should we keep singing our songs, our poems, our prose. Even the roughest storms can't keep the bird from its singing. Nor should we let our own storms, our personal disappointments like deaths of family and friends, stop us.

The poem uses a bird as a symbol to define the feeling that hope can give an individual. In the first stanza, Dickinson tell the reader that "Hope is the thing with feathers .That perches in the soul. and sings the tune-without the words. And never stops at all." In other words, hope is part of a spirit that lives in all of us. The uplifting feel of hope comes naturally and stays with us.

A series of words in the second and third stanzas “sore,” “storm,” “chillest,” “Extremity” combine to evince a different side of nature, as dangerous and threatening. Here the sense is of an exterior space, wild and unprotected. Dickinson tells us, the tune the bird sings is “sweetest,” suggesting both that it is the most comforting thing heard amid the noise of the storm, and that, while the tune is sweet when it is heard while one is safe, it is sweetest when one is in danger.

If we look at “‘Hope’ Is the Thing with Feathers” in terms of Dickinson’s life, we can perhaps read a commentary on her withdrawal from the world. Dickinson turned inward into herself and shut out the world, and she suggests that inside...
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