Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Analysis of Emily Dickinson's She Rose to his Requirement (732) as a feminist poem

                The poem is considered as a feminist text in which various themes connected with women’s lives are exposed. On the one hand, Emily Dickinson’s personal life, her rejection of various social institutions like marriage and criticism of authoritarian religious norms place her among American feminist writers. On the other hand, the poem presents a meek and mild woman who has given up everything to please the patriarch. She can be treated as a ‘representative of home angels’ silenced by the male chauvinists who lost themselves and their playthings.
The increasing interest on Ms. Dickinson’s personal life has marked the political documentation of her life and her contribution to the cause of women. She had looked down at marriage, child bearing and other institutional role assigned to women. She was bold enough to subvert the assumptions of Puritanism and tyranny of her dead father. Her experiments with language, and themes were new in American poetry. Feminist critics are interested in undermining various social structures and structure of language. In this view Emily Dickinson has shed light on many feminist concerns.
This poem too can be read from a feminist point of view. The beginning the poem records what women forsook-the ‘pleasure’ and playthings of her life. This may be a hint at how woman are intimidated in social institutions, and how they fashion themselves as per the norms of the society and make suitable to do the honorable job of a wife. This mute plight of women can be contrasted to the freedom of man in doing the same roles. The second stanza also focuses on the submissive responses society expects from woman, as she has rose to his requirements.
The second stanza lists those precious things the woman has got to lose. She loses all, the material as well as the spiritual, intensity of her own life, fear and respect, the potential and the gold. Society expects a complete submission from the part of woman, where as it ignores man’s role. The poem can be understood as an exposition of those unmentioned chapters of history where the contributions of woman are ignored.
The third stanza concludes with a note of complacency. Here the poet assumes that those unmentioned selfless acts of woman are just like a drop of water in the shell, which gradually turns to pearls. This may be a strong female assertion of right and value of the hardships of woman. It is said that the depth of it is known only to him.