Emily Dickinson A Solemn Thing Analysis

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“A Solemn Thing—it was—I said”

When one hears the name, “Emily Dickinson,” the image of a famous woman poet holed up in her room writing about death while secluding herself from the rest of the world instantly comes to mind. Contrary to popular belief, Dickinson was actually in-tune with society; she knew of all the politics and social issues that existed in her time period, especially those dealing with women. Her poems are written by the influences in her life, and one could say that “A Solemn Thing—it was—I said” was written with a feminist perspective. The poem focuses on Dickinson’s role in life as a woman, a subspecies creature with a lesser value than that of a man, at least through the eyes of a nineteenth century society. It carries a tone of disappointment and chagrin as the speaker reflects on women’s “small” social status (4.13). Before the 1800s, a nun’s uniform was all white,
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The “Sages,” (4.2), that the speaker is referring to are most likely the men in general who look down on women’s roles when compared to their own, perhaps making comments that they are “small,” (4.1, 2, 4) in comparison. But after dropping her life into the well for her passion for writing, “the size of [her] ‘small’ life,” (4.1), suddenly did not seem so small anymore. After pursuing her art, her life had found a deeper, more fulfilling meaning than the life of just being a woman that society expected out of her. She says that her life “Swelled—like Horizons—in my vest,” (4.3), to describe how massive her “small” life suddenly grew in importance. She also uses the word “vest” in this line as a synonym for “chest” instead of the word “breast.” This may be perhaps because the word “breast” is often affiliated with femininity, whereas “vest” gives readers a masculine image, as it was a common article of clothing for men. She uses this perhaps to give more emphasis on how her life now seems just as important as any

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