Study Help Essay Questions

1. Why is a good general knowledge of Emily Dickinson's life useful for interpreting her poems?

2. How can knowledge of Emily Dickinson's life be misused in interpreting her poems?

3. Compare and contrast "We play at Paste" (320) and "Essential Oils — are wrung" (675).

4. Discuss the use of abstractions as vivid metaphors in I dwell in Possibility" (657).

5. Compare and contrast the use of animals as symbols in Dickinson's love poems.

6. Discuss the relationship between deprivation and fulfillment in Dickinson's love poems.

7. Compare and contrast Dickinson's joyful and melancholy responses to nature.

8. Discuss the use of metaphors in Dickinson's nature scenes.

9. Discuss Dickinson's various tones, from ecstatic to anguished, in showing how rebirth can come from suffering.

10. Discuss the figure of the speaker as a little girl in Dickinson's poems.

11. Offer detailed arguments for the varying interpretations of "Because I could not stop for Death" (712).

12. Compare and contrast the changes of mood dramatized in "This world is not Conclusion" (501) and I know that He exists" (338).

13. Discuss the figure of death as a lover in Dickinson's poems.

14. Compare and contrast Dickinson's first-person and third-person death scenes.

15. Discuss in detail your reasons for disagreeing with any whole interpretation of a poem made in these Notes.

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Dickinson considered the speaker in her poems to be


My theater teacher called me a name the other day. I don't think it was supposed to be a compliment. What's a somnambulist, anyway?

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