How Does Emily Dickinson Create Meaning in Her Poems?

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How does Emily Dickinson create meaning in her poems? Emily Dickinson likes to express her feelings with painful honesty but manages to use appropriate techniques so that her poems describe the reader’s mind as well as her own. Many of Dickinson’s poems can be interpreted as representing thought process, as they depict subjects that are naturally experienced over the course of a lifetime. Dickinson’s poetry is abundant in imagery. Dickinson enriches the language in her poems with similes ‘As wholly as a Dew’, metaphors ‘Boots of Lead’ and personification ‘A Bird came down the Walk’. These literary devices help Dickinson to form powerful and thought provoking images to the reader. Dickinson is known for her use of ambiguity. Her poems are often so explicit in imagery and literary techniques that they give the reader numerous perceptions and meanings of the poem. For example, ‘I started Early-Took my Dog-’ may depict a number of different situations depending on how the reader interprets the imagery. One theory suggests that the poem is about sexual assault: ‘But no Man moved Me – till the Tide Went past my simple Shoe – And past my Apron – and my Belt And past my Bodice – too –’ Here, ‘the Tide’ may be representing a man, because of how the patriarchy has, throughout the history of society, been presented as strong, powerful and dominant, much like the sea. Phrase by phrase, the voracious water rises past her body; some readers interpret this as the undressing of a woman. However, Dickinson transitions from the menacing tone and moves towards beautiful, light imagery: ‘I felt His Silver Heel Upon my Ankle – Then My Shoes Would overflow with Pearl-’ The use of words like ‘Silver’ and ‘Pearl’ suggest that whilst the speaker feels intimidated by the situation, there’s beauty in it, too: the way pearls are beautiful, once they’ve been released from their
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