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Im Nobody Who Are You

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Whitney Moore Mrs. Fowlks English 1 4012 13 May 2013
Analysis of “I’m Nobody! Who Are You?” by Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson is often called a recluse because she spent the second half of her life secluded from the public in her family home. Out of over 2000 poems she wrote, only 12 of those were published anonymously in her lifetime. Furthermore, the friendships she kept in the latter part of her life were held mostly by letter correspondence.
However, Dickinson believed that the best inspiration came from doing without. I believe that this is the basis for "I'm Nobody! Who are you?" Dickinson not only chose to be a "Nobody," she preferred it. She enjoyed herself the most when she was alone, tending the gardens around her family home, writing poetry, reading. Publishing her poems anonymously is a direct reflection of her choice to be a nobody. For this reason, I would argue that the poem "I'm Nobody! Who are you?" is a direct reflection of Dickinson's ideals on life.
"Are you Nobody too?" The friendships that Dickinson kept in her life were intimate. There were so intimate, in fact, that her sexuality is often questioned based on the letters she wrote to her friends. All of the people that theorists have connected to Dickinson as being the "love" she spoke of in her poems are people to whom she corresponded with by letters, men and women alike. This second line paired with the third, "Then there's a pair of us!" suggests that Dickinson was not so much of a recluse. Rather, she was looking for another "Nobody," another person who valued anonymity, to spend her time with.
"Don't tell! They'd banish us -- you know!" Two nobodies together are no longer nobodies. Dickinson wanted to find another "Nobody," but not because she wanted to become a "Somebody." As a "Somebody," she'd have to face the scrutiny that comes from being in the public-eye. In her life, she was scrutinized for refusing to sign an oath professing her Christianity. Additionally, she was scrutinized by the editor of the Atlantic Monthly when she submitted her poetry to them he asked her to revise them. Dickinson did not want to be banished from being a "Nobody" because she didn't want to have to face scrutiny from others toward her ideals, life decisions, and work. As a "Nobody," she could comfortably be herself.
In the second stanza, Dickinson expresses her repulsion to being a public figure: "How dreary to be Somebody! How public like a Frog." She compares being a "Somebody" to being a "Frog." Frogs are noisy and get noticed, but only by an "admiring Bog." This stanza is interesting knowing that Dickinson's father was a U.S. Congressman. An "admiring Bog," I believe, could be a metaphor for the people who act as friends to others for the benefit of it only. A congressman would have been surrounded by people who were only there for political reasons. Dickinson surely witnessed this in her life, and this may have strengthened her resolve to be a "Nobody" to everyone other than her close friends.
In conclusion, I feel that this poem could explain Dickinson's choice to live in solitude for the latter part of her life. She'd been scrutinized in her early years, and she'd seen through her father what being a "Somebody" brought to your life. Furthermore, this would explain why she never chose to publish many of her poems in her lifetime.

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