Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was a New England poet/hermit with a fascination with death and immortality. She wrote over 1000 poems in her lifetime, most of them dark and soul-searching. Why were her poems so dark?

American LiteratureAll American Literature
LanguageEnglish Language
Literary TopicsAuthor Highlights
LiteratureAmerican Literature

Transcript

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. . .these were soul-searching ditties about stuff like death and immortality.

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So, why was this prim and proper recluse. . .

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. . .so obsessed with the Grim Reaper? It might have had something to do with how

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often someone she cared about bit the dust.

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She lost two close friends. . .

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. . .and a cousin before she turned 21. . .

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. . .and many more people who were very close to her...

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Surrounded by so much death, it's no wonder why it was her main source of inspiration.

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Or maybe it was more about shaking things up.

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Since Emily was living in the 19th Century in stuffy New England...

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...maybe she wanted to rattle some cages. . .

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. . . and show people that women weren't just fragile creatures. . .

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. . .who could only write about hearts and flowers.

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Her poems sure didn't look like anyone else's. . .

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. . .with all that random capitalization and funky punctuation. . .

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. . .so maybe her subject matter. . .

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. . .was just another way to keep people on their toes.

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Or maybe she was simply depressed. Being a hermit who shied away from social

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situations. . .

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. . .we said hermit. . .

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. . .could be a major reason Emily caved in to her dark thoughts.

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And if you add in the fact that she was taking care of her nasty, sick mother. . .

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. . .well, you do the math.

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So why was death so prominent in Emily Dickenson's work?

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Was it a response to all the deaths in her life....

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Or a desire to shock people...

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Or could it have been a case of severe depression? Shmoop amongst yourselves.