“the Soul Selects Her Own Society" Symbolism

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The process of selecting friends and lovers can be difficult for everyone. Some are outgoing and always willing to become close with new people. The soul that is described in Emily Dickinson’s “The Soul Selects her Own Society” however, is one that chooses a very select few individuals. The gates, doors and stone walls of the fortress are created by Dickinson to represent the person’s closed attitude towards becoming attached to new people. After the soul “selects her own society”, it is said to “[shut] the door” on the “majority.” When opened, the door allowed companions to enter the fortress and become close with the person. When the door is closed, we are told to “obtrude no more.” The closing of the door to keep people out of the castle or fortress is representative of the soul isolating itself from companionship. The castle and gates symbolism is illustrated further when this individual encounters a suitor. This potential lover stops his chariot at her “low gate” and begs to enter the castle. This low gate entrance to the fortress is the least heavily fortified, and is symbolic of an emotional soft spot in her personality which this man is trying to use to possibly start a relationship with her. This last stanza reiterates that the soul has chosen only one lover or companion from the “ample nation,” this time using the stone walls of a castle to symbolize her impenetrable isolation. Using walls and gates to symbolize a person’s isolation is not uncommon. Another work that uses this symbol is Pink Floyd’s album and film “The Wall” whose story follows the building and subsequent tearing down of the main character’s personal brick wall of isolation. Pink Floyd is less subtle about the symbol than Dickinson as the album features lyrics such as “In perfect isolation/Here behind my wall.” Because literal walls and gates are intended to physically separate
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