Emily Dickinson

Massachusetts, the state where Emily was born and raised in, before the transcendental period was the epicenter of religious practice. Founded by the puritans, the feeling of the avenging had never left the people. After all of the "Great Awakenings" and religious revivals the people of New England began to question the old ways. What used to be the focal point of all lives was now under speculation and often doubted. People began to search for new meanings in life. People like Emerson and Thoreau believed that answers lie in the individual. Emerson set the tone for the era when he said, "Whoso would be a [hu]man, must be a non-conformist." Emily Dickinson believed and practiced this philosophy.
When she was young she was brought up by a stern and austere father. In her childhood she was shy and already different from the others. Like all the Dickinson children, male or female, Emily was sent for formal education in Amherst Academy. After attending Amherst Academy with conscientious thinkers such as Helen Hunt Jackson, and after reading many of Emerson\'s essays, she began to develop into a free willed person. Many of her friends had converted to Christianity, her family was also putting enormous
amount of pressure for her to convert. No longer the submissive youngster she would not bend her will on such issues as religion, literature and personal associations.
She maintained a correspondence with Rev. Charles Wadsworth over a substantial period of time. Even though she rejected the Church as a entity she never did reject or accept God. Wadsworth appealed to her because he had an incredibly powerful mind and deep emotions. When he left the East in 1861 Emily was scarred and expressed her deep sorrow in three successive poems in the following years. They were never romantically involved but their relationship was apparently so profound that Emily\'s feelings for him she sealed herself from the outside world.
Her life became filled with gloom and despair until she met Judge Otis P. Lord late in her life. Realizing that they were well into their lives they never were married. When Lord passed away Emily\'s health condition which has been hindered since childhood worsened.
In Emily\'s life the most important things to her were love, religion, individuality and nature. When discussing these themes she followed her lifestyle and broke away from traditional forms of writing and wrote with an intense energy and complexity never seen before and rarely seen today. She was a rarity not only because of her poetry but because she was one of the first female pioneers into the field of poetry.
Emily often speaks of love in her poems, but she did it in such a way that would make people not want to fall in love. She writes of parting, separation and loss. This is supported by the
experiences she felt with Wadsworth and Otis P. Lord.
Not with a club the heart is broken,
nor with a stone;
A whip so small you could not see it,
I\'ve known
This seems to be an actual account of the emotions she experienced during her relationship with Otis Lord.
Individuality played a pervasive role in her life as a result of her bout with separation. Emily did not conform to society. She did not believe it was society\'s place to dictate to her how she should lead her life. Her poems reflect this sense of rebellion and revolution against tradition.
From all the jails the boys and girls
Ecstatically leap,-
Beloved, only afternoon
That prison doesn\'t keep.
In this poem Emily shows her feelings towards formalized schooling. Being a product of reputable college one would think that she would be in favor of this. But as her beliefs in transcendentalism grew so did her belief in individuality.
Emily also went against the Church which was an extreme rarity of the time. Similar to many other that shared her beliefs she too did not think that a set religion was the way for salvation.
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church;
I keep it staying at home,
With a bobolike for a chorister,
With an orchard for a dome.
According to this poem Emily clearly states that nature is her source of guidance and