My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun –
by Emily Dickinson
My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun – Gender Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
"The Owner passed – identified –
And carried Me away – " (3-4)
Though we don’t figure out that the Owner is male until the seventh line, we can look back at the use of "Owner" here with that in mind. Considering that almost all of Dickinson’s poems are written in the first person, we might assume the speaker is a woman. It would probably be a little much to say that the speaker is Emily Dickinson. Thus, the female speaker has a male "Owner." It implies that the man has power over the woman, that she lacks agency, and may even be a piece of property. This calls to mind issues such as the state of women in society, issues Dickinson may not have actively been referencing. The oppression of women is one possible interpretation of this poem, and you can find it here.
"And when at Night – Our good Day done –
I guard My Master's Head –
‘Tis better than the Eider-Duck's
Deep Pillow – to have shared – " (13-16)
This stanza certainly complicates the theme of "Gender." Where some would interpret the Owner/Master quality of the male figure as sexist, the power of the female speaker can’t be denied. In this stanza, she "guards" the "Master’s Head." She may be mistress to her "Master," but most mistresses aren’t endowed with the agency of "guarding" their master. By the end of the stanza, the speaker seems rather pleased with the arrangement, preferring to share the bed with him.