Emily Dickinson - Transcendentalist or Anti-Transcendentalist

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Emily Dickinson - Transcendentalist or Anti-Transcendentalist

Post  Angela on Fri May 15, 2009 12:19 am

Emily Dickinson is not classified as a transcendentalist nor an anti-transcendentalist. Perhaps she is not distinctly classified into one group or the other because she is a combination of both.

As she grew older, Emily Dickinson became reluctant to be drawn away from home. She therefore stayed in her bedroom and viewed the world through a sheet of glass. From “I Never Saw a Moor,” we can infer that Emily Dickinson did not experience going out into sea or speaking to God, but she could picture how the waves and heaven looked. “I never spoke with God not visited in Heaven – Yet certain am I of the spot as if the checks were given.” She must have been in tune with intuition, or primary wisdom, in order to feel experiences that she has never personally experienced before. The spontaneity and instinct came from the Universal Being, and her awareness of the interconnectedness between her Being and the collective conscious.

This relates to her other poem “The Soul Selects Her Own Society.” The soul or Being holds unlimited potential and therefore everlasting power to bring out change and to take action by using intuition to create. The Being is not controlled by anything, because it is simply interconnected with ALL being and ultimately the collective consciousness, or the WHOLE. These beliefs are all characteristics of the transcendentalist beliefs, in which Emerson expressed through his essay Self Reliance.

Just as Ms. Kay mentioned in class, anti-transcendentalists do not have to completely disagree with the transcendentalist beliefs. Just like the last assignment addressed, Hawthorne and Melville were both anti-transcendentalists but they still incorporated transcendentalist beliefs into their works. Emily Dickinson showed anti-transcendentalism through many of her poems, of themes revolve around death. She held transcendental beliefs, therefore she was aware of her consciousness, but she held certain uncertainties about her religious belief. Perhaps belief in fate rather than free will? It was this uncertainty in her self, losing confidence and self reliance on the inner being to act with its unlimited potential, that led her to writing poems with death seen as the end to her consciousness.

In “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” the fifth stanza mentions the grave, or the final house in which individuals should ultimately arrive. Perhaps she believed that death surely was the end to consciousness and that our Being deteriorates once the physical body dies away.

From “This Is My Letter to the World,” a feeling of rejection and being ostracized by the world is reveled through Emily Dickinson’s tone. It seems as if she was saying that nature excluded her and that she existed as a separate entity from all nature. This definitely shows anti-transcendentalist beliefs because transcendentalists believed that every individual is one with nature, and that we will never be excluded from nature or from the Universal Being because we are simply a puzzle piece that fits in perfectly with the all.
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Angela

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Re: Emily Dickinson - Transcendentalist or Anti-Transcendentalist

Post  Angel on Sun May 17, 2009 9:57 pm

It is completely true when you mention that it is absolutely not necessary for Transcendentalists and Anti-Transcendentalists to have different values and ways of viewing the world, may it be through optimistic, ever-wondering eyes or assured, determined eyes. Hardened feelings towards one’s surrounding environment do not always represent the end of all hope and fantasies. I also agree with you when you say that Emily Dickinson possesses both Transcendentalist and Anti-Transcendentalist beliefs and values; although her identity remains very much a mystery to us all today, her works leave traces of evidence that allow us to investigate, rather than classify, her thoughts and the various emotions that she might have withheld from all others.

Dickinson was undoubtedly connected with her inner soul, with intuition, the “primary wisdom” which enables her to experience and/or envision the vividness of landscapes and beauty of scenery that she has never before witnessed. The being allows her – she who resides in a reclusive area of confinement, but perhaps of inspiration, too – to further explore the depths of her own imagination, to delve deeper into the abyss that is the foundation of her constant creation. She is not plain, nor is she terribly spiritless; she is not nothing. We must see past the lines of seeming restriction, of a surface of boredom that is lifeless and dull. She may have grown up in a preserved Puritan society, but her works of art – of treasure, really – represent the true interconnectivity between her being and the Universal Being.
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