Emily Dickinson

Topics: Emily Dickinson / Pages: 4 (1381 words) / Published: Apr 24th, 2014
Explore the context for Emily Dickinson’s poetry and how this context may have influenced its style and content.
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was an American poet who was born in Amherst, “a quiet academic village in the farming district of Massachusetts, a hundred miles west of Boston” where “she had lived... obscurely all her life”. She was born on December 30, 1830 into a successful, prominent and respected family within the community.
In respect to her character in the early years of her life, Ted Hughes comments that “she was notoriously known for her comic wit and high-spirited originality”, traits that were to progress with incredible force to the point of almost hysteria and what has been suggested as insanity. However, even at such an early age Emily showed little or no indication to travel or to “venture into the world”, which seemed to merely decrease further to nothingness as the years went by.
By the time Emily Dickinson was 24 years old; her sheer disinterest in participating in everyday life was so grand that she is recorded to have said that she would not “go from home, unless emergency leads... [her] by the hand”. So strong was this idea of hers, which eventually led to, what has been considered to be, “self-imprisonment” in her family home in Amherst, where she was to live until her death in 1886, aged just 55 years old. However, James Reeves suggests that “her isolation was a calculated choice”.
In the background of Emily’s reclusive life, “the old Calvinism of the New England States was in open battle against the new age”, meaning that the environment that she grew up with was a religious one. The Calvinistic-Puritan church was the centre of life in New England and so everyone was expected to conduct themselves following their thoughts and beliefs. It is clear to us, however, that it was Emily Dickinson’s close friends that introduced her into “the world of books and ideas beyond the narrow paths of puritan theology”.
The Transcendentalist

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