Symbolism And Metaphors: Emily Dickinson’s "Hope Is The Thing With Feathers"

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Emily Dickinson was and still is a well known poet. Some of her fans would even call her an artist. Her works are still being read today. She is also good at using certain wording to help her readers get more of an understanding of what the work is about. In her poem “Hope” is the Thing with Feathers, Dickinson used imagery, metaphors, and symbolism. Each one of these literary devices has helped make this poem so good. It also seems as if Dickinson wants her works to be difficult to read.

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One of the first things you can notice about this poem, is that Emily Dickinson uses metaphors. Dickinson compared hope with “feathers”/”bird”. By using this, it shows how the bird sings and gives courage to the spirit of the person. The speaker informs us that ‘perches’ (like a bird would) ‘in the soul’, where it sings an unending and wordless song. The poem also does not start by stating its metaphor directly. It seems as if Dickinson uses this certain wording to get the reader to actually sit down and think about what she is trying to say. She never made things easy for her readers, her wording always makes one think about what they are reading.

Additionally, the author uses imagery in her poem. Dickinson uses imagery to help her readers imagine what she is writing about. She used things such as, “bird”, “feathers”, “storm”, “land”, and “sea”. When she uses certain words, the reader can infer that she wants you to see specific things. She also wants the reader to imagine being in that situation. If one is able to get a good image of what is in the poem, there is more of a chance that they will get a better understanding of the work.

Finally, Emily Dickinson uses symbolism. The author has used many symbols to show the powerful impact of hope in her readers lives. “Chilliest Sea” and “storm” symbolizes struggles during trying times when hope is still there. “Storm” could symbolize all of the hardships that one could face during their lifetime. Emily often tries to get in touch with her readers feelings, one could be able to easily pick up on this in “Hope” is the Thing with Feathers. She describes what hope is to her and how it has been with her throughout her life. Hope is something that stays with someone as long as they let it. No matter what someone is going through, there is always that little bit of hope in the back of the mind.

Emily Dickinson kept to herself most of her lifetime. She only had a few select people that she had a good relationship with. Her sister-in-law was one of those people. Emily eventually sent her over three hundred letters, more than to any other correspondent, over the course of their relationship. Later on in her life she began to isolate herself so much that she confined herself to her bedroom. Most of Emily’s acquaintances had a slight knowledge of her works. It was not until after her death that her sister Lavinia found her poems and other various works. Not long after Livinia discovered the works, she had shared them with the world. Since 1890, Dickinson has remained continuously in print. When her works were first being published they were changed until Thomas H. Johnson published Dickinson’s Complete Poems in 1955.

Dickinson wrote most of her poems in the time that she spent locked up in her room. She was depressed and it seems like that is what was one of her inspirations for her works. She put her feelings into her poems and that is another reason why her readers are drawn into the poems. Her emotions are raw and clear in her works.

10 October 2020

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