Presentation on theme: "Emily Dickinson Her life and style. Biographical Bits Born in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1830 A lawyer/congressional rep’s daughter…this means they’re."— Presentation transcript:
Biographical Bits Born in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1830 A lawyer/congressional rep’s daughter…this means they’re fairly well-off financially Her grandfather was one of the founders of Amherst College, and her dad was a treasurer for it Strict upbringing -Her father attempted to protect her from reading books that might "joggle" her mind, particularly her religious faith, but Dickinson's individualistic instincts and irreverent sensibilities created conflicts that did not allow her to fall into step with the conventional piety, domesticity, and social duty prescribed by her father and the orthodox Congregationalism of Amherst.
Education In 1840, she was educated at the nearby Amherst Academy, which had just opened to female students She studied English and Classical literature, learning Latin and reading the Aeneid (she also took classes like religion, history, math, geology, and bio) In 1847, at 17, she went to Mary Lyon’s Mount Holyoke Female Seminary
Stayed pretty close to home except for… Attending M. Holyoke Seminary for less than a year. She fell ill and didn’t return to school 4 week trip to D.C. w/ dad Philadelphia at age 25 Boston, mid-30’s, eye problems These are the ONLY major excursions beyond her home
Family Sister is Lavinia (Vinny) her closest friend and confidante. She also never married. Brother is Austin. Dad wanted kids close to home, so when Austin got married and moved out, he moved into the house next door. Austin also became treasurer at Amherst, and he married Emily’s very close friend, Susan Gilbert in 1856. Her mom wasn’t really a strong presence in her life due to chronic illness and Emily said she wasn’t the sort “to whom you hurry when you are troubled."
Personality Quirks She’s known for being reclusive b/c she spent the last 10 years of her life in her home and garden; the same home she grew up in Also known for being a bit eccentric b/c during these last years of her life, she also dressed exclusively in white
However… She is also characterized as shy, quick- witted, and intense She was a great letter-writer w/many correspondents. She even wrote her letters in verse so that they looked like little poems But a series of deaths and disappointments and several friends moving away led to her gradual withdrawal from the world
Her Poetry She was INCREDIBLY prolific, writing 1775 poems in her lifetime, many of which were scribbled on the backs of recipe cards or in the margins of books 7 of these were published anonymously during her life, but only with the urging of others b/c she rejected fame and had a fear of failure
More about the Poetry The first collection of her poems was published in 1890, but it wasn’t complete It wasn’t until 1955 that her complete poems were published unedited and then her talent became widely recognized She is one of our most famous American poets, celebrated for her seemingly simple yet thoughtful meditations in verse Ironically, she’d probably hate the fact that just about every student in American reads and studies her stuff
Her Style Her poems were called “gems of metaphor and meditations…w/compact and precise language” Short lines/few words per line Seemingly simple yet depth of ideas Her subjects are ordinary scenes & objects, observations of nature and small town life
More about her style Likes abstract yet universal concepts like death, grief, joy, beauty Draws parallels between her observations in nature and people she knows Her common literary devices are metaphor, personification, symbolism Likes dashes, which represent thoughtful pauses…sometimes Likes random capitalization, which is often a clue to important words/concepts
Some final musings on her style (Michael Myers’ thoughts) ... Dickinson found irony, ambiguity, and paradox lurking in the simplest and commonest experiences. The materials and subject matter of her poetry are quite conventional. Her poems are filled with robins, bees, winter light, household items, and domestic duties. These materials represent the range of what she experienced in and around her father's house. She used them because they constituted so much of her life and, more importantly, because she found meanings latent in them. Though her world was simple, it was also complex in its beauties and its terrors. Her lyric poems captures impressions of particular moments, scenes, or moods, and she characteristically focuses upon topics such as nature, love, immortality, death, faith, doubt, pain, and the self. It's also worth keeping in mind that Dickinson was not always consistent in her views and they can change from poems, to poem, depending upon how she felt at a given moment. Dickinson was less interested in absolute answers to questions than she was in examining and exploring their "circumference.”