Study Guide

Much Madness is divinest Sense— Setting

By Emily Dickinson


On a Soapbox

This poem doesn't lock us into any specific setting (no checking in on Foursquare here). It doesn't give us much imagery or anything like that. What is does give us, though, is a whole lot of attitude. This poem has an axe to grind… well, an axe to swing is more like it. The speaker is all fired up at the Majority for it's oh-so-oppressive ways, and she's not afraid to announce it to the world.

So when we read this, we imagine the speaker standing on a soapbox in a crowd telling everybody exactly what she thinks. She's got a megaphone to her lips, and she's letting the people around her have it. It's a pretty dramatic scene, because most of the people around her are part of the majority that she's calling insane. They're booing her, calling her crazy, and in the end dragging her off in chains. (Ooh, dramatic.)