Hope is the thing with feathers
By: Emily Dickinson
In her poem, Emily Dickinson communicates that hope is like a bird because of its free and independent spirit. Hope is similar to a bird in its ability to bring comfort and consolation. Dickinson uses techniques such as extended metaphor and imagery to describe hope throughout her poem.
The poem is introduced with, “Hope is the thing with feathers.” Dickinson’s use of the word “thing” denotes that hope is something abstract and vague. By identifying hope as a thing, Dickinson gives an intangible concept characteristics of a concrete object. The opening line of this poem also sets up the extended metaphor of comparing hope to a bird in the word “feathers.” “Feathers represent hope, because feathers offer the image of flying away to a new hope and a new beginning.” (Omitted author, 1)
Line two of Dickinson’s poem further broadens the metaphor by giving hope delicate and sweet characteristics in the word “perches.” Dickinson’s choice of the word also suggests that, like a bird, hope is planning to stay. “Hope rests in our soul the way a bird rests on its perch.” (Omitted author, 1) The next line continues with hope singing to our souls. The line “And sings the tune—without the words,” gives the reader a sense that hope is universal. Hope sings without words so that everyone may understand it, regardless of language barriers. The closing line of the first stanza, “And never stops at all,” implies that hope is never ending. Hope cannot be stopped or destroyed. Dickinson’s point is emphasized in the words “never” and “at all.” In just one line, there are two negative words, which highlight Dickinson’s message.
The second stanza depicts hope’s continuous presence. “And sweetest in the gale is heard,” is ironic because hope’s most comforting song is heard during a “gale,” a horrible windstorm. The superlative use of the word “sweetest” illustrates that hope is at its ultimate best during life’s ultimate,...
Cited: Author’s name omitted by request. “Emily Dickinson Poem Analysis.” Copyright 2001. (Viewed on 12 February 2003)
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