My Life Had Stood a Loaded Gun

Topics: Gender, Gender role, Woman Pages: 4 (1137 words) Published: February 18, 2013
Víctor Salceda
Professor. Asunción Lopez Varela
Literary Criticism
20 March 2012
“My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun – ” Feminist Analysis. This poem was written by the American poet Emily Dickinson around the year 1863. It is probably one of the most complex of all Dickinson’s poems because it does not have a single coherent and satisfactory interpretation. This is due to the fact that it exemplifies her technique of the ‘omitted centre’, a device by which the author omits information that is crucial to the understanding of the poem. Nevertheless, the aim of the present paper is not to discuss the manifold possible interpretations of the poem. Its aim is rather to try to explain it or analyze it from a feminist point of view, highlighting how it gives an image of a woman different from the one people are used to, as well as how it inverts the gender roles but accepting them at the same time. The speaker starts by presenting herself as “a Loaded Gun”, that is as a mortal weapon capable of killing and destroying. This can be understood as the poet’s rejection of the traditional ideas and images about femininity, she is portraying herself as strong and potentially active in opposition to the common ideas of weakness and passivity associated with women. Later on, in the third stanza, she will compare herself to a volcano, turning the possibility of destruction – a contingent fact up until that point – into a reality. So now she is not only telling the reader that she can be active, dangerous, and destructive, but she is actually being it: the previous threat is now an event. This image of the volcano is even more important because it is a common one, used also by Emerson – one of her greatest influences – to refer to the poet. The difference is that whereas in Emerson’s essay The Poet it is a rather benignant image – this of the volcano – used to portray the poet as a power of nature; in Dickinson’s poem it is a burning and destructive force....
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