Hope Is the Thing with Feathers

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Kensley Pottebaum
November 9, 2009

Critical Analysis
To trust there is a possibility for a better outcome. To dream and have courage to believe it is possible. To have faith in powers beyond own control. All these concepts relate to hope. Emily Dickinson uses her poem, “Hope is the Thing with Feathers,” to show that hope is contained in the soul of everyone and can triumph over all, as long as a person believes in it. In Dickinson’s poem, she uses metaphor to personify hope and the give it the characteristics of a bird. This imagery then shows Dickinson’s message about hope. Emily Dickinson uses metaphor and imagery to describe the abstract idea of hope throughout her poem. She begins this in the first line, “Hope is the thing with feathers.” In this image, the reader believes that hope is a bird. Hope is not a living thing, it is inanimate, but by giving hope feathers, she begins to create an image of hope in our minds. Feathers are used to represent hope because of the images feathers invoke. The image of flight reminds the reader of dreams and life beyond the current state. Human flight is impossible, so it brings the perspective of the impossible into comparison, since a bird is able to fly. Feathers enable flight and offer the image of flying away to a new world, a new beginning. In contrast, broken feathers or a broken wing would ground the bird, or in this case hope, and relates to the image of someone being beaten down by life, needy and overwhelmed. In this contrasted image, the person’s wings have been broken; therefore, they have forgotten this free-spirited hope. Although forgotten, this hope is not lost. A bird can go either ways, just as with hope. To create the flight of hope, a person must believe it is able to fly. To tear it down, a person must disbelieve in hope. Dickinson continues to use the imagery of a bird to describe the location of hope. In the second line; “That perches in the soul,” Hope is found perched within...
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