Literature Baym, Nina, and Robert S. Levine. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Vol. B. New York: W. W. Norton, 2012. Print. Within Emily Dickinson’s poems, she faces a few of the same themes. The themes presented range from religion, women roles, and a dark twist of life after death. Dickinson stayed within the walls of her parents’ home for her life so her poems were based off the ideas of how she perceived the world around her. The poems I want to focus on within the bibliography are women roles and the culture during her writings.
Questions | have within Dickinson’s writing include, how might cultural expectations of women be reflected in her poetry? What are the connections between her religious views and the events in the time of her writings? I want to also focus on the culture and reflection within her poetry. For the women’s writings, Dickinson shows the ways of the “average” housewife in the 1800s. For her religious writings, she shows her battle within her belief.
Dickinson provides us a unique representation of life in the late 1800’s with a twist on words. Research Cunnea. n. d. ): n. pag. A Timeline of Women’s Legal History in the United States by Professor Cunnea. Georgetown University, Mar. 1998. Web. 22 Mar. 2017. This timeline is a summary of large events that happened while Emily Dickinson was alive. It provides a list of different events that may or may not have influenced her writing but unquestionably show the culture of women whom are breaking their “society” thresholds.
This list includes but is not limited to women being granted some property rights across the US, first licensed female attorney in owa, the National Woman Suffrage Association is started by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the first woman to declare presidency but did not run, and Susan B. Anthony arrested for attempting to vote. These are all extreme advances in woman’s history, none of them should be overlooked. Using these dates, the way Dickinson wrote on women expectations, and “Cult to Womanhood”, I see more of an insight to woman cultures in the 19th century.
One thing this does not go into is the religious side which will be reviewed elsewhere. Harde, Roxanne. Some–are like My Own–‘: Emily Dickinson’s Christology of Embodiment. ” Christianity and Literature, vol. 53, no. 3, 2004, p. 315+. Literature Resource Center, www. nclive. org/cgibin/nclsm? url=http://go. galegroup. com/ps/ i. do? p=GLS&Sw=w&u=nclivecrcc&v=2. 1&id=GALE %7CA121947612&it=r&asid=8afb2ff794ceb57357eb8a90669116 a2. Accessed 22 Mar. 2017. Throughout this writing, Harde speaks upon Dickinson’s debate and analysis of her religious beliefs. There are several points that are made in the writing that I can agree and disagree on.
It adds a different perspective to what I was looking for in my answers. Relating to Lundin’s piece, it is brought up that within the time period of the Civil War that Dickinson shaped her beliefs on death and suffering. Death and suffering are a big piece in Dickinson’s life that I believe have a good part of why her religious views are of question to herself. She wanted to fully believe. Harde made points within this article that Dickinson always did believe in Jesus and God and that she was looking for more information but I do not agree with this statement.
I can say she was quite progressive for her time in questioning it and did wonders for the advancement of women but I do not think she was ever a firm believer of Christianity. Lundin, Roger. Emily Dickinson and the Art of Belief. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Eerdmans, 1998. 3+. Print. Reviewing Lundin’s “Emily Dickinson and the Art of Belief”, I specifically only read though her sections on struggles with belief. Within her struggles, she provides a double-sided view on both God and Jesus Christ. She want’s so much to believe but she is finding it hard always questioning the presence and justice.
In her life, she rejected to join the church. She specifically speaks about God and where is he during the time of the Civil War. Her view on God and during the cultural split across America during the Civil War can provide us some of the connections to my questions. There is a possibility of this tracing back as well to the romantic sublime and the unanswered questions that Dickinson leaves within her poetry. This piece of her questioning God also fits in with the “Cult of Womanhood” and how being the ‘perfect wife’ in the 19th century involves being a Christian woman.
Dickinson was not satisfied with the loss of God in her life, I believe she was fighting more to believe but could not find what she was searching for. Machor, James L. “Emily Dickinson and the Feminine Rhetoric. ” NineteenthCentury Literature Criticism, edited by Jessica Bomarito and Russel Whitaker, vol. 171, Gale, 2006. Literature Resource Center, www. nclive. org/cgi-bin/nclsm? url=http:// go. galegroup. com/ps/i. do? p=LitRC&sw=w&u=nclivecrcc&v=2. 1&id=GALE %7Ch1420072975&it=r&asidf22e06ff192090352f1cfb7f082eaefa . Accessed 20 Mar. 2017. Originally published in Arizona Quarterly, vol. 36 no. , Summer 1980, pp. 131-146.
Within the “Feminine Rhetoric”, Machor talks about how Dickinson would use methods of sarcasm within her writing with the feminine voice. In the nineteenth century, women had a “choice” of either succumbing to the feminine submission or silently be against it while still performing in the role. Dickinson found a way within her writing to not present herself as a feminine voice. One quote of the article I thoroughly enjoyed was Dickinson writing suggests “the strengths of major women writers lies in the ability of each to create her own, unique, literary type of feminine rhetoric”.
Also within the article it is brought up that Dickinson shows her modernity by not accepting what society said she was to be. This writing will help with her reflection of women in her poetry and how she used her own way to basically “stick it to the man”. This also connects with the “Dickinson against the sublime” due to how she will offer an answer to the reader.
Stonum, Gary Lee. “Dickinson against the Sublime. ” NineteenthCentury Literature Criticism, edited by Jessica Bomarito and Russel Whitaker, vol. 171, Gale 2006. Literature Resource Center, www. nclive. org/cgi-bin/nclsm? urn=http:// go. alegroup. com/ps/i. do? p=LitRC&sw=w&u=nclivecrcc&v=2. 1&id=GALE %7CH1420072977&it=r&asid=86836c96b3194625ddd3207544b e724f. Accessed 20 Mar. 2017. Originally published in University of Dayton Review, vol. 19, no. 1, Winter 1987, pp. 31-37. For the sake of this summary, I needed to google what exactly the romantic sublime definition was. The explanation being, “Edmund Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry (1757) connected the sublime with experiences of awe, terror and danger. Burke saw nature as the most sublime object, capable of generating the strongest sensations in its beholder” (CITE).
Throughout “Dickinson against the sublime”, it states how Emily Dickinson leaves her poetry up to the reader. She creates her poetry for the reader experience to take it how they need to. Her poetry, relating this back to my questions, provides a fear and danger within her contemplation with religion. The culture as well of the nineteenth century was heavy in romantic sublime. She is continuously capturing the biggest debates in her generations time and helping the reader understand what they need. I too believe Dickinson provided open-ended interpretation in expectations of women in her poetry.
Because she goes against the social norms in her poetry, it’s important to read into the romantic sublime. Welter, Barbara. The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860. 1966. “The Cult of True Womanhood” is exactly what it sounds like. It outlines the basic guidelines needed to be a successful wife in the 1800’s. The information is written in a way that comes off as satire but it is indeed factual to the time period. Being a successful wife in the nineteenthcentury involves a heavy belief in Christianity, not speaking when spoken to, raising children in the home, and cooking dinner for your husband.
The piece also provides a breakdown on how magazines were used to women to provide knowledge on how to become said “true woman”. Using this piece of information, it will help me wrap the idea of how Dickinson is presenting women through her poetry as well as her perception on religion. Dickinson had a huge up and down with religion so for either man or woman in this time period, that was incredibly frowned upon. It even goes into detail within women needed to keep their roots to faith even when men cannot do so.