Emily Dickinson’s Writing Style, & Historical & Cultural Contexts Essay

Emily Dickinson is an American poetess of the 19th century, whose poetic works are still very popular across the world. The poetess impresses the reader by her unique poetic voice that allows drawing relevant conclusions on the powerful role of faith in human life. It is necessary to explore the poetry of Emily Dickinson in order to understand the link that exists between her writing style and the historical and cultural contexts. This poetess is widely recognized as the master of the English language. She provides much evidence in her poetry that proves the significant power of the faith in human life. In her poems “Dare You See A Soul”, “There’s a certain Slant of light” and  “The Bat is dun, with wrinkled Wings”, the poetess is aimed at giving free play to the reader’s imagination in order to prove that human emotions can shape Calvinistic anxious feelings and strengthen their relationship with the faith and God. She experiments with finding new ways of expression her thoughts in poetry in order to become free from the established rules and conventions of writing.  Emily Dickinson creates her poetic writing using a distinctively elliptical language for expressing new ideas about the faith, religion, life and death, truth, freedom, and others. She is focused on the emotional writing which helps  her to express her feelings openly. The language used by Emily Dickinson provokes emotional reaction of the reader. As a result, the poetess’s writing style becomes dependent on the historical and cultural contexts that shape her thoughts and ideas.

Thesis statement: In many of Emily Dickinson’s writings, e.g. “Dare You See A Soul,“ “There’s a certain Slant of light,“ and  “The Bat is dun, with wrinkled Wings,” one realizes that the artistic, almost whimsically-poetic, religious hymnal stanza style of writing was the most appropriate and best used style to give life to the ideals and inspiration of her verses; moreover, her literary writing skills and style helping to materialize an original gemlike style of emotional writing revealing an Calvinistic anxious feeling toward her relationship with her faith.

To start with, Emily Dickinson’s writing style can be characterised as the artistic, almost whimsically-poetic, religious hymnal stanza style of writing. It is utilized appropriately to highlight the ideals and inspiration of many verses created by Emily Dickinson. She writes about her own life experiences, feelings and emotions. She uses a large number of images that help her to generate unique ideas about the meaning of human life, the role of human relationships and the power of love. In her poem “Dare You See A Soul”, the poetess places emphasis on the soul as the sense of self and passion of the woman, but not as her artistic talent. She writes, “Dare you see a soul at the white heat? Then crouch within the door” (Dickinson 180). She allows the reader to imagine the fires of hell, placing emphasis on the emotional perception of her verse. The use of fancy language makes her writing style exclusive and unpredictable, especially when she says, “But when the vivid ore/ Has sated flame’s conditions,/Its quivering substance plays/ Without a colour but the light/ Of unanointed blaze” (Dickinson 180). In another poem “There’s a certain Slant of light”, the poetess continues the theme of life and death because she provides a description of light as something vague and unclear for understanding. She writes, “There’s a certain Slant of light,/Winter Afternoons –/That oppresses, like the Heft/Of Cathedral Tunes –/” (Dickinson 126). In fact, the unique features of her writing style are the use of capitalization to attract attention of the reader to certain words and phrases that are influential for the overall understanding of the key message and the use of dashes that allow the poetess to indicate missing words and help the reader to use his/her own imagination. In the poem “The Bat is dun, with wrinkled Wings”, the poetess pays her attention to description of the bat in way that allows the reader to value the power of God, the creator, who produces unique creatures to meet the needs of people. She writes, “The Bat is dun with wrinkled wings/Like fallow article,/And not a song pervades his lips,/Or none perceptible” (Dickinson 467).

Moreover, Emily Dickinson’s writing style is consistent with the historical context that influences the overall understanding of the meaning of her verses. Most of her poems are affected by her faith in God. Religion is a key tool used by the poetess in creation of her unique poetry because she writes her poems using a traditionally religious hymnal stanza form. In the poems “Dare You See A Soul”, “There’s a certain Slant of light” and  “The Bat is dun, with wrinkled Wings”, the poetess shows her attitude toward God and His creatures. She is focused on the study of the faith as an essential part of poetry, but she does not follow the established rules of writing stanza form. She breaks the accepted conventions of using rhyme and punctuation in poetry. This fact means that historical context presented in the form of religious views and ideas on reality allows Dickinson to share her personal knowledge and experience in the field of religion. It is known that the poetess received education at Amherst Academy. She attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. However, she left the academy for unknown reasons. Researchers state that Dickinson did not join any church or denomination, because she was against the established religious norms of her time (Freeman 20). The life of Emily in New England was dependent on the 17th century Puritan doctrines which highlighted the role of intellectual development. According to researchers, the Puritan doctrine of technologia promoted “the rules of art which were supposed to be the rules of God, but in trying to understand the nature of human representation” (Freedman 20).

In addition, the writing style of Emily Dickinson reflects the cultural context of her time. In New England, the role of culture in development of society was important. Dickinson’s poetry is a mixture of religious ideas and aesthetic elements which make it possible for the poetess to promote American culture. Researchers found that “Dickinson was not only heir to a literary and  theological tradition that merged the discourses of representation and revelation, she was also writing in a culture which had a particular interest in the body as a signifier of incorporeal meaning and in the duality of poetic consciousness” (Freedman 16). Dickinson’s poetry was shaped not only by her inspirations, but also it was shaped by her constraints. She recognized the need for creating new approaches in the use of her writing style to allow the reader feel the power of the cultural context and its impact on the poetess’s achievements.

Besides, Emily Dickinson uses her literary writing skills to improve her writing style. The key idea of the poetess is to materialize emotional writing in order to demonstrate an Calvinistic anxious feeling toward her relationship with God and her faith. The study of the effects of Dickinson’s environment on her writing style shows that there are some factors that influence her ideas and inspirations. She is influenced by both the place and time, as Amhest, Massachusetts, her family household, her friends and relatives help the poetess to generate new ideas and new imagination.

Some of her poems are extremely religious, such as “There’s a certain Slant of light” which describes light as something divine and shows closeness to God, and “The Bat is dun, with wrinkled Wings” which demonstrates the ugliness of the creature and its association with understanding of God’s mission. Emily Dickinson’s poems are not intended to teach religion, but they help to understand its power and role in human life. She is interested in the study of God’s mysterious nature and shows her  relationship to the faith through discussion of many serious issues like life and death, freedom, truth, intensity of emotions, grief and loneliness, fame and success, and others. In her poem “The Bat is dun, with wrinkled Wings”, the poetess writes, “To his adroit Creator/Ascribe no less the praise;/ Beneficent, believe me,/His eccentricities/” (Dickinson 467). God, the Creator is presented by the poetess as a divine creature, because His presence on the earth helps people to differentiate between good and bad.

In fact, the poetess is motivated by both her emotions and her logical thinking. Her poems show the emotional power of her writing style. The language used by Emily Dickinson is characterized as intricate and lucid due to the use of symbolism, which helps the poetess to convey her thoughts and feelings. The poetess’s writing style, influenced by the historical and cultural contexts, contributes to establishing poetic brilliance. Emily Dickinson is presented to the reader as a perfect poet because her writing skills are perfect. The impression, generated by her poetry, depends on the messages she delivers through her writing style and specific language patterns, as well as her emotional appeal that persuades the reader to understand the meaning of life. In the poem “There’s a certain Slant of light”, she writes, “None may teach it – Any –/’Tis the seal Despair –/An imperial affliction/Sent us of the Air –/” (Dickinson 126). The use of specific rhymes and grammar patterns make her poetic works original. For example, she writes, “When it comes, the Landscape listens –/Shadows – hold their breath –/When it goes, ’tis like the Distance/On the look of Death-/” (Dickinson 126). The rhyme like “listens-Distance” and “breath- Death” allows the reader to expand imagination through the fluency of poetic writing. She never changed her writing style because she was satisfied with the lyrics she produced. Researchers state that “Emily Dickinson’s poetry reaches its maturity almost immediately” (Morris 39). Hence, it is obvious that the poetess’s emotions and her logic play an important role in developing of her unique writing style, which can be used as an effective tool of persuasion. According to Morris, “Dickinson was not making a book for anyone, but for herself” (52). She ignores the language of other poets and uses her own techniques to make her writing style original, but at the same type, easy to understand.

Thus, it is necessary to conclude that the success of Emily Dickinson’s writings depends on the use of the artistic, almost whimsically-poetic, religious hymnal stanza style, which allows the reader to assess the ideas and inspirations of the poetess, draw relevant conclusions, and make certain changes in one’s own views on reality. It becomes clear that Emily Dickinson’s literary writing skills and her writing style help to materialize the so-called gemlike style of emotional writing, which reflects an Calvinistic anxious feeling toward her relationship with her faith. Emily Dickinson uses unique techniques that make her poetic writing both original and intellectual. The use of specific rhymes and grammar patterns allows the poetess to attract attention of the reader and share her ideas in a way that is easy understandable.

Works Cited

Dickinson, Emily. Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries. Ed. byHelen Vendler.Harvard University Press, 2010. Print.

Freedman, Linda. Emily Dickinson and the Religious Imagination. Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.

Morris, Timothy. “The Development of Dickinson’s Style,” in Emily Dickinson. Infobase Publishing, 2008. Print.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

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freeessays.club (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
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[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]
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