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    Dickinson’s Humor Essay (703 words)

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    While much of Emily Dickinson’s poetry has been described as sad or morose, the poetess did use humor and irony in many of her poems. This essay will address the humor and/or irony found in five of Dickinson’s poems: Faith is a Fine Invention,” “I’m Nobody! Who are you?,” “Some keep the Sabbath Going to Church,” and “Success Is Counted Sweetest.” The attempt will be made to show how Dickinson used humor and/or irony for the dual purposes of comic relief and to stress an idea or conclusion about her life and environment expressed by the poetess in the respective poem. The most humorous or ironic are some of the shorter poems, such as the four-lined stanzas of “Faith is a Fine Invention” and “Success Is Counted Sweetest.”

    In Faith”, Dickinson presents a witty and biting satirical look at faith and its limitations. While it still amuses readers today, it must be mentioned that this short poem would have had a greater impact and seriousness for an audience from the period in which Dickinson lived. Dickinson was raised in a strict Calvinist household and received most of her education in her youth at a boarding school that also followed the American Puritanical tradition in which she was raised.

    In this short, witty piece, Dickinson addresses two of the main obsessions of her generation: the pursuit of empirical knowledge through science and faith in an all-knowing, all-powerful Christian God, and the debate on which belief was more powerful. Dickinson uses humor to ease her position in the debate to the reader. She uses her ability to write humorously and ironically, as seen in her suggestion of the use of microscopes, to present a firm, controversial opinion in what could be dismissed as an irreverent, inconsequential piece of writing. In Success.”

    Dickinson’s emphasis is less on humor and more on expressing irony. This poem may be partially autobiographical in nature. Dickinson made few attempts during her life to be taken as more than an amateur poetess. On one occasion, she sent a collection of her poems to a correspondent who was also a published poet.

    His criticism of the poems devastated Dickinson, and she never made another attempt towards publishing her works. In Success,” Dickinson reflects on the nature of success and how, ironically, it can be best appreciated and understood by those who have not achieved it. As in “Faith.”

    Dickinson powerfully presents her thoughts in a few lines. The poem deals only with one ironic but universal idea in its short length.

    It is the bitterness expressed in this irony, as found in Dickinson’s juxtaposition of the words sweetest” and “sorest,” separated by two lines, that is most felt by the reader. While the previous poem expresses the poet’s bitterness and sorrow with one aspect of her life, “I’m Nobody! Who Are You?” uses humor without irony to address another. In this poem, Dickinson’s style appears almost childlike in its descriptions, including frogs and bogs, as well as the lively energy expressed by the poem through its use of dashes and brief wording. Dickinson seems to be addressing her spinster, hermit-like existence (“I’m Nobody”) and her preference for it. The poet seems to relate that her situation has not left her without a sense of humor but, in fact, has allowed her to maintain a childlike outlook on life rather than adapting to the boring norms of her society (“How dreary – to be – Somebody!”).

    She mocks the conventional need for self-importance through publicity, suggesting that the audience isn’t that interested. She instead seems to idealize her solitude by creating the mysterious feeling of a secret society of social outcasts. In this poem, she effectively uses humor to soften a critique of certain members of her society. While this poem is longer than the other poems discussed, it too is able to express the quality of brevity and lightness in that its composition is full of dashes, with even full sentences broken into short, quick actions that easily roll off the tongue when spoken aloud. The technical composition of this poem is two stanzas; however, Dickinson is able to refresh the form with her use of dashes and short words to give it a unique rhythm.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    Dickinson’s Humor Essay (703 words). (2019, Jan 31). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/dickinsons-humor-essay-77211/

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