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The Collision of Realism and Romanticism in Emily Dickinson's Works

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The poetry of Emily Dickinson, which was influenced by personal background and by the Romanticism or Realism era literary period, has contributed to American literature. Emily wrote many poems that were greatly influenced by her life and the people she met. She was more of a family person than a social person, but that made the people she met all the more precious to her. Although her childhood seamed pleasant, she often wrote poetry on the darker things of life. She wrote over 1,800 poems, some to be published, others not.

Emily Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts. She was one of three children of Edward Dickinson and Emily Norcross. Emily had an older brother named William and a younger sister named Lavinia. Her father was a lawyer and in Amherst and a trustee of the college there, he was the treasurer for almost forty years. Her mother though she was well educated, had no job but to raise the children. Emily never built a deep bond with her mother, believing she was boring and once writing “My mother does not care for thought.”

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In 1840 Emily and her sister began school at Amherst Academy. She stayed there for seven years, where her studies mainly focused on English and Classical literature. Emily’s principal, Daniel Fiske, would recall that Emily was a bright student who was faithful to her studies. Besides going to school Emily never really left the house, and her family rarely had any visitors. This made the people who she did meet in her life greatly influence her poetry.

An example of how people close to her influenced her poetry is when her cousin and close friend, Sophia Holland, died from typhus. This greatly trouble Emily with the “deepening menace” of death in her poems and whenever someone close to her would die. Because of this troubling time in her teen years, her parents sent her off to Boston to recover and get her spirits up and when she did she came home and returned to school. When Emily finished her last year at the Academy se then went to school at Mary Lyon’s Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. Although she liked the girls there she didn’t make very many friends and she only stayed at the school for ten months. Later in life at the age of 55, she became ill and was eventually bedridden. After her symptoms worsened, she died and her doctor declared it as Bright’s disease.

Even though she had little people who came into her life, the people who did were significant to her. For instance she had a friend named Benjamin Newton, who she grew quite close to but never was romantically involved with. They were friends for a long time and her believed and respected her as a poet. Even when he was dying of tuberculosis, he didn’t want to leave before seeing her become a great poet. Emily also admired the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John Keats, and Walt Whitman. She was also heavily influenced by the Metaphysical poets of seventeenth century England. She was brought up in a Puritan town, which encouraged her conservative approach to christianity.

Emily lived towards the end of the Romanticism period and she wrote with Romanticism and Realism. Majority of her poems deal with Reamism, the themes containing darker topics. When Emily wrote more Romanticism, she focused on writing in nature. Nature was very important in this topic of writing because nature is beauty and power. Edgar Allen Poe is also an example of a dark Romanticism poet. In Emily’s poem “There is Pain–So Utter.” it describes pain in a way that makes it seem as though it’s bearable, the state of mind it’s in allows it to be selective in the way Emily words it. Pain is a recurring topic in her poems, because it seems painful experiences stick to her.

The poetry of Emily Dickinson, which was influenced by personal background and by the Romanticism or Realism era literary period, has contributed to American literature. She contributed to the Romanticism and Realism era with her poems of death, pain, and heartbreak. She shows how memories of her life influenced how and what she wrote about. She lead a different life, making friends even when she was secluded. Never marrying or having kids but found happiness in her family. Her poems have made a great contribution to literature.

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