Categorizing Emily Dickinson

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Categorizing Emily Dickinson

Post  joyceychen on Fri May 15, 2009 12:18 am

How much transcending can you do when you confine yourself to a room? Emily Dickinson chose to ostracize herself from society, selecting to observe rather than directly interact. Yes, she saw the important connection to nature but why would she chose not to go out into the world? If she were filled with hope, why was she reluctant to publish her writings?

But not to say she did not incorporate Transcendentalist ideals, as she most certainly did.
- In "I Never Saw a Moor," Dickinson expressed how one doesnt need to experience something but can still receive its message. Does this come from the universal reliance that is within and connects us all?
- in 'Exultation Is the Going," she discusses venturing into eternity/the unknown, to perhaps expand our unlimited potential?

Dickinson seems rather uncertain of her life, especially when it comes to religion. Unlike Emerson and Thoreau, Dickinson displays heavy religious influence. Her personal experiences also seem to set her apart from the others. In her biography, her writings are described as "traditional and unusual" and even her punctuation is a bit unconventional, explicitly stating/showing her uniqueness. Therefore, it might not serve her justice to plop her into the Transcendentalist category. She discusses elements found in Transcendentalism, such as hope, unlimited potential, connections between everyday life to spirituality, society/conforming vs individualism ("Much Madness is Divinest Sense"), and a universal reliance, but her work encompasses so much more. Her biography asserts her to "belong not to a particular tradition or period of time but especially and only to herself" and I agree. She was able to mix in her own self with many topics in her room. Maybe her isolation helped, in a way, keep her deep ideas pure andi n their true form.
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Re: Categorizing Emily Dickinson

Post  Fermin Liu on Fri May 15, 2009 12:47 am

That was filled with insights! It was so good it makes me want to add a little more to my own discussion of Emily Dickinson which I only realized after reading your work. You first started out with Anti-Transcendentalism and her seclusion, but then, in the second paragraph, you demonstrated logically how a ton of Transcendentalist concepts can be found in many of her poems. I really like how you are constantly exploring the grey area instead of the black-and-white areas, which is something that I should definitely do more of. Your last paragraph saying how Emily Dickinson should not be classified because she was her own self was exactly what popped into my mind right before reading that paragraph. First of all, classifying Dickinson or anyone for that matter would restrict them to only supposed to exhibit certain characteristics, which therefore, cuts out the Spontaneity from within people. And second, Emily Dickinson, being the great author that she was, was and is so big of a topic with her immense ideas and wisdom that it would not be fair to her to classify her into either the "Transcendentalist" or the "Anti-Transcendentalist" group. Doing so only mars the pure form of Dickinson's insights as they first spring out, and so I think it was right for Dickinson to have lived a life of isolation. It made her thoughts pure of any contamination of the society and her ideas true to her intuition's perspective. Very Happy
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Re: Categorizing Emily Dickinson

Post  joyceychen on Fri May 15, 2009 1:05 am

aww thanks Fermin! Your feedback is great too! Something I need to work on is going more deeply into a point (me not doing so results in short answers, as you can see), and you help provide more of that with your reply, so thank you!! I particularly like how you applied the putting limitations through the act of labelling to this. It does make things harder to categorize, especially if one deviates from a set standard.
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