Monday, September 15, 2008

Three Words on Emily Dickinson

It’s not a word but the use of the hyphen in Emily Dickinson’s writing is very significant, important, and intriguing. “They” is an important word in all of Dickinson’s writing, the connection she makes to the outside world even though she spends most of her adult life in seclusion is interesting. And “Me”.
The use of the hyphen is interesting in Dickinson’s writing because it adds so much emphasis to certain words, it adds voice to her writing, and it makes you notice the parts of her writing she wants noticed. It makes her point so much stronger, as she details her life and her feelings, her thoughts and her dreams, we are instructed to pause and digest as we read by each and every hyphen.
Every time she uses the word “They” it intrigues me based on the fact that Emily Dickinson spent her adult life as a recluse. After caring for her sick mother for the majority of her life before connecting to the outside world only through correspondence, she had to have experienced a good amount of life in order to connect so well with what everyone thinks. So many people consider her one of the greatest writers of all time, and most of her writing was done from memory, from vicarious living, from pretend. In her mind, she came up with these poems about herself and others, watching others live their lives.
The use of “Me” is interesting as an opposite to the word “They”. In her reclusive life, she has to keep inside her own head. Thinking about herself in terms of herself is really what her world must revolve around. Her poems become very introverted as time goes on, and you can see the change readily as her writing goes from reaching out to the outside world to reaching within herself alone.


Evan Hecker said...

Choosing a hyphen or dash as one of the three words you provide commentary for is wonderful. In some regards, Dickinson's use of a hyphen is more important than the words following or preceding the hyphen. I would agree that the use of hyphens adds emphasis and voice to her writing, but also is used to provide suspense to the reader. Great post!

campbedm said...

I would agree with Evan, Samantha. The "me-They-dash" trio that you identify is indeed important. It's interesting that she sees the outside world as plural ("they") rather than as singular, especially since there's an impersonality and distance to that word.