Mohammed Al-Saadi1/10/2018Thesis: Through the use of diction, enjambment, and dashes, Emily Dickinson creates ambiguity in her poems in order to reflect on the subject matter at hand.What I Did: looked for cases of imagery, dashes and enjambment to increase ambiguity of her workWhat I Discovered: Emily Dickinson’s to convey a message, then with her use of dashes she is able to emphasize specific themes, but it also creates ambiguity by creating multiple interpretations of characters as well as create multiple meanings. Textual Evidence:I cannot live with You – It would be Life – And Life is over there – The first three lines of I cannot live with You can be Emily talking to a lover. Her use of the word You creates ambiguity by not revealing the gender of the person she is talking about.
Therefore, the theme of the poem could branch out into two direction, it could be either about love or religion.The Sexton keeps the Key to – Putting upOur Life – His Porcelain – A sexton is the caretaker of the church The speaker says that the sexton keeps the key to their life. Because of her using sexton, its implied that the story is one of religion and not of love. The third Stanza helps to show the life of the speaker as porcelainDiscarded of the Housewife – Quaint – or Broke – A newer Sevres pleases – Old Ones crack – Sevres is a place in Paris known for its porcelain.
When reading the 2nd and 3rd stanza together it is revealed that the Sexton locks up the porcelain, which also means that the Sexton is locking up their life.I could not die – with You – For One must waitTo shut the Other’s Gaze down – You – could not – Stanza 4 continues without revealing the true nature of the person she is talking to, She is saying that the can’t die together because one of them has to close the eyes of the other when they die. Her use of Other could imply that the person she is talking to is Jesus. This interpretation makes sense of the last line of the sentence, which could mean Jesus can’t close her eyes upon death because he is already dead. In the next stanza Dickinson talks about the Other’s death and i she could bear itAnd I – could I stand byAnd see You – freeze – Without my Right of Frost – Death’s privilege?Her use of freeze and Frost in the 3rd and fourth lines can be tied to Death because people’s bodies cool down upon death. Her use of Death’s privilege could mean that death is a viable option. She would rather choose death over watching her other die in front of her. The ambiguity in this stanza appears in the first line when she says “Could I stand by” Her use of could tying in with the question at the end of the stanza, could turns the statement of love into a question.
The next stanza Nor could I rise – with You – Because Your FaceWould put out Jesus’ – That New GraceAt first look this stanza conveys an anti-religious tone. Her use of put out can convey two messages based on how it is interpreted, put out can mean to extinguish or smother, which makes the tone of the poem forbidden in a religious sense because it means that the speaker could ascend to the heavens with her lover because her love for him is greater than that of Jesus. Another interpretation carries a totally opposite meaning. Put out can mean to place in front of, in the context of this stanza it means that Jesus’ face is in the spotlight and that she could not rise with him because she would be stepping out of line if she did so. The tone of this interpretation is a selfless one, it is very humbling. So We must meet apart – You there – I – here – With just the Door ajarThat Oceans are – and Prayer – And that White Sustenance – Despair – Dickinson’s use of “meet apart” creates a paradox.
The two words have opposite meanings from each other. The next line suggests that dickinson and the other are close to each other, but she then contradicts that by saying that the oceans are doors. The lines after that can only be understood if it is interpreted in a religious sense.
Dickinson mentions prayer, while praying Dickinson is able to meet with God, but at the same time she is not meeting with him face to face.I heard a fly buzz then i diedThe first line I heard a Fly buzz – when I died -The speaker is talking to us in first person and in a past tense. This causes the reader to question, why is the speaker talking to us in the after-life. She never explains how she is speaking from the after-life, which creates ambiguity on the characteristics of the after-life and whether the speaker is in hell or heaven. All that is known is that she is dead and the fly is significant when she is talking about her death.In the second stanza Dickinson continues to describe the mood in the room. In the third line Dickinson mentions a king.
The king could be many characters. He could be a literal king, but that is very unlikely. The other interpretation of the character portrays him as a spiritual figure.
This spiritual king could be a symbol of God. He could also be a portrayal of death.Dickinson continues to describe the death of the speaker through the 3rd and 4th stanzas.
Dickinson’s used the fly to symbolize death, that annoying buzzing sound is what can be heard around a rotting body. The coming of death were also represented by the sounds the fly makes. The ambiguity of the many aspects of this poem, light, the king, the after life, the fly, and the fact that all of this happened in the past, could show Dickinson’s uncertainty about what happens after death. The speaker has passed, but we don’t know where she has passed on to. It was not death for i stood upDickinson uses contradictory lines to create uncertainty as to what is going on.In the first Stanza 3rd and 4th line Dickinson immediately creates ambiguity by contradicting her previous line she says it’s not night because the bells ring for noon, and she is not cold because she feels hot wind.
Her use of it throughout the poem also creates ambiguity. “It” remains unidentified which emphasizes the confusion she is experiencing. The use of key in the 4th stanza is uncertain. The key could be a key to find out what is happening to her or it could also be a key to a lock, trapping her mental freedom. I felt a funeral in my brainAt first look, I felt a funeral in my brain is about a person going insane, losing their grips with reality.
With the mourners treading back and forth, which portrays the chaos in her mind. Her use of treading showcases the constant hammering affecting the speakers brain. Another interpretation of the poem can be suggested when digging deeper into the poem.
We know that a funeral is going on and that reason and sanity is being lost, but it can also be interpreted as reason and sanity killing something else off