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英语论文:艾米莉狄金森诗歌中的女性主义解读


济南大学毕业论文

A Feminism Analysis of Emily Dickinson’s Poetry

1.0 Introduction
In the wake of the western feminist movement and feminist ideology, feminist consciousness has gradually pervade in many fields of resarch. Feminist consciousness urges woman to express themselves, get their deserved rights and pursue de eaqulity with man. With different feminism theory, feminists can be classified into many schools, such as ecofeminism, spiritual feminism, radical feminism and so on. As the great development of feminism, Feminist Criticism was come into being. And in recent years, feminism theory citicism is popularly used to analyse many writers’ works and this kind of research has got great achievements. American feminist arose in 1830s. Dickinson won her historical position as the American feminist presursor through her unconvational way of life, and her feminity poetry. As one of the most important woman poets in the nineteenth century, Emily Dickinson made a great impact on America literature. She was outstangding among the contemporary poets for her special language feature, profound ideology and creative images. Athough she remained unknow to people in all her life time, she proved her value and her great genius in writing poems in the latter days. Now the research about Emily Dickinson is from all kind of perspective. Some schoolars research images in her poems; some schoolars research language features in her poems; and some schoolars research the theme of her poems. The focus of this thesis is to anlysis Dickinson’s poetry in a feminism aspect. Through a good look of her unique life style and a good appriciation of poems that have different themes, a conclusion that Emily Dickinson is a woman poet who has feminism consciousness and feminist tendencies come out. She was a rebelious and anti-tranditional figure.

2.0 Emily Dickinson and her life
2.1 Emily Dickinson’s Unique Life Background and Awakening of Feminism
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济南大学毕业论文

Awareness
Enily Dickinson was born on 10th December, 1830, in the town of Amherst Massachusetts. She was the second of three children of Edward and Emily Dickinson, and she was named after her mother. She lives in a prominent family and her father was a successful lawyer. She was educated at Amherst Academy (1834-1847) and Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (1847-1848). Dickinson began to wrote poem around 1850.. Her poems was first in fairly conventional style, but later on she began to give room for experiments. Beginnging at the age 23,she gradually cut off the contact with the others and spent most of her time in her room. Choosing to shut the door, she claims her superiorty to the external world and shows her independent attitudes towards life. She was always dressed in white and indulged herself with long, solitary walks in the countryside around Amherst. From the point of her neighbors, she was very eccentric. She was never married and devoted all her life to writing poems. Modern feminists believe that self-improvement and self-development as a career woman, instead of a housewife, symbolize a woman’s awareness of feminism. The fear of becoming a wife and a mother reveal some of the feminism consciousness. As a recluse, Dickinson had no interests to be a wife and a mother, but choose to be a poet and contribute her life to poems to persue her spiritual soul. She certainly had possesS some original feminism awareness.

2.2 Emily Dickinson’s Literary Career and Achievement
Dickinson wrote more than 1,775 poems and 1,409 letters in her 30 years of writing. However, only 11 of the poems were published anonymously during her life time. Why she did not publish her poems? Emily Dickinson herself gave us the answer of publication in one of her poem. She wrote such a line “Publication---is the Auction”. From this line ,we can get she wrote poems is not for to be a great poet or get great fame,she just want to express her self and reaching her spiritual soul. Thus she remained unknown during all her life time. After her death in 1886 and with the help of her sister Lavinia, Dickinson’s poems started to be published. At the beginning, the critics criticized her brief and simple lyrics and complained her strange use of language. But the first printing was quickly sold
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济南大学毕业论文

out and further collections were needed. Then the poems were transcribed and published by the poet’s niece in the early decades. Gradually, critics began to recognize Dickinson’s great genius in creating poetry. She had a unique perspective on life, death, love, nature, and friendship. Her different poetic forms, ideological concerns and artistic innovations are unpredent. Nowadays, she was considered to be one of the best poets in America and she is acknowledged as one of the founder of modern American poetry. She has hailed as an equal to such great distinguished men as Bryant, Emerson, Witman and so on. She had a great influence to American literature.

3.0 Ecofeminism embodiment in Emily Dickinson’s poem of nature 3.1 Review of Ecofeminism
With the development of feminism movement, all kinds of feminiam theories come into being. Ecofminism, or ecological feminism, is one of which. It is a union of feminism and ecological thinking and the term was firsr came up with by French feminist Fran?oise d'Eaubonne. It held the following primary beliefs: 1. Female is more close to nature than male, but male is pitted to against nature. Male treated the nature as a hunting ground, their purpose is to change nature and conquer nature to get what they need. Nature is something a enemy to them. Instead female keep a harmonious relationship with nature, they have the same feature with nature, they are inclusive and reproductive. In the long human history, especially in the primitive age, men’s work is hunting and cultivation. While women’s work is to pick fruits and reproduce offsprings, they have the same essence with “mother nature”. 2. The earth is a balanced network. All the life on earth is equal, they cannot be classified into different classes. But the reality is there is s class system. In this system, God is the most pure spirit, while the other kinds are in the second class. In the second class, human beings are superior than animals. As to human beings, men’s position is higher than woman. Ecofeminists are against this class system and they are trying their best to change the fate of the opposed kind.
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济南大学毕业论文

At the same time, in our daily language use, we also use pronoun “she” to refer to nature. “Mother nature” is also used. This reflect the rationality of the Ecofeminism theory in some degree.

3.1 Ecofeminist Analysis of Dickinson’s Poem of nature
Emily Dickinson keep a deep attachment to nature. She wrote about more than 500 nature poems during her life time. She once wrote in her poem that nature is a gentle mother who treated her children tenderly. Her attitude to nature is just like what the Ecofeminism adhere to. Nature-----the Gentlest Mother is Impatient of no Child----The feeblest-----or the waywardest----Her Admonition mild----….. Incite the timid prayer Of the minutest Criket The most unworthy Flower-----

When all the Children sleep---She turns as long away As will suffice to light Her Lamps----Then bending from the Sky----And infinite Care----Her Golden finger on Her lip----Will Silence-----Eveywhere----(poem 790) (Johnson, 1975 385-386) In this poem, Dickinson compare nature to a gentle mother who take her children very patient. No matter the feeblest one, or the waywarddest one, her adonition is mild. No matter the minutest criket and the most unworthy flower, she treated all her children eaqually. When her children sleep, she lightend her lamps and bent from the sky to pray for them. Dickinson’s opinion to nature is the same as the ecofeminist advocate. Her attitude
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济南大学毕业论文

towards nature reflect from her poem fully proved that she is a good ecofeminist. In another nature poem, Dickinson compare leaves to woman, and bravely list the qulities of woman. The leaves, like woman, interchange Sagacious confidence Somewhat of nods, and somewhat of Portentous inference

The parties in both cases Enjoining secrecy---Inviolable compact To notoriety Dickinson wrote directly in this poem that woman are sagacious, confident, inviolable. They have a lot of good qualities. The qualities of the leaves is the qualities of woman. They have the same essence. Just like the ecofeminists advocate, nature and woman are close, they possess the same character. Superficially, the auhtor is writing leaveas, but its deep meaning is to eulogize woman. In Emily Dickinson’s mind, woman is purifying and confident. They are as good as man, or even they possess some good qualities that man have not. In the anlysis of aonther poem, Dickinson as a ecofeminist is unboubted. ”Nature is Harmony” and “Nature is Heaven” are the most striking lines, they are exactly the belief that the ceofeminists hold. “Nature” is What we see---The hill---the Afternoon---Squirrel----Eclipse---the Bumble bee---Nay-----Nature is Heaven

Nature is what we hear---Tha Bobolink----the Sea--Thunder----the Cricket---- 5 -

济南大学毕业论文

Nay---Nature is Hamony---

Nature is what we know Yet have no art to say---So impotent Our Wisdome is To her Simplicity In the first stanza, by list the detailed object: the hill, squirrel, eclipse and bee, the author portrait a peaceful and energetic outlook of nature. She feel that nature is as beautiful as heaven. This indicates poet’s love of nature. The second stanza by list sound of the bobilink, the sea, the thunder, the criket, no matter some of the sound is so lound,and some of the sound is so weak, they conposed to a hamonious symphony. In the last stanza, the author express her awe to nature. When we human beings were compared to nature, our wisdom is impotent. We are just one small part of nature. Through the line “what we see”, “what we hear”, “what we know”, the author is feeling nature first by eyes,then by ears, and at last by heart. All this is a good revelation of ecofeminism theory.

4.0 Rsisitance to Man’s Dominance over Nature 4.1 Emily Dickinson’s Religious Belief
Feminists are against the patriarchal family system, and they believe that God is the foremost representative of patriarchal society. God is the “Father”, he is the original source of patriarchal society, thus he is also the original source of the inequality betwween male and femal. If there is a “female-God”, the things is not like what we see now. So the feminist deny the exit of God, and in the meantime, they revolt to sermons and doctrines which is created in religion syetem. As to Dickinson, religion stood in the mid of her life time. She wrote a great many of religious poems. Although she was a deeply religious poet, Dickinson was never a pious Christian. Instead she was a non-conformist. We can see it from her lif background first. In 1841, Dickinson attented Anherst Academy, but she was only stay one year. Why she left school in such a short time? A great cause for her departure was that the girls were asked to
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济南大学毕业论文

join the church, and Dickinson wanted no part of that. Besides this, we can futher see her revolt and suspect to God by analysing some of her religios poems.

4.2 Analysis of Dickinson’s Religious Poem
In Christians’ beliefs, God created the world and everything on it. God is the supreme dominator of the world. If you pray to God, God can hear your pray, and salvate you from the defficulities. But in the following poem, Dickinson shows her doubt about it. Of Course----I prayed---And did God Care? He cares as much as on the air A Bird----had stamped her foot---And cried “Give Me”---My Reason -----Life I had not had----but for Yourself---’Twere better charity To leave me in the Atom’s Tomb---Merry, and Nought, and gay, and numb---Than this smart Misery. The first two lines explain that the poet prays To God, but God makes no response to her. Then he starts to doubt God for her pray caannot be testified. The following lines express that God care about the bird more than the woman’s pray. This contrast show us God’s coldness and cruelty. The author is becoming anger to God for his indifference. She began to doubt the exit of God. In the other poem, Dickinson show us the information that she does not believe that people will be saved by going to church or by confessing. She doubted the power of God and she even did not believe the exist of God. So it is meaningless to go to church. Some Keep the Sabbath going to Church---I keep it, staying at home---With a Bobolink for a Chorister--And an Orchard, for a Dome---- 7 -

济南大学毕业论文

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice---I just wear my Wings---And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church, Our little Sexton-sings.

God presches,a noted Clergyman---And the sermon is never long So insteaad of getting to Heaven, at least---I’m going, all long (poem 324)(Johnson, 1975:153-154) Diakinson did not believe the doctrines of Christian. When some people keep going to church on Sabbath, the poet keep staying at home. Birds, orchard, and beautiful scenery is what she needed. In her mind, she didn’t need Choristar, Church and God ang all the things related to religion. The inhabitants of nature is more important than religion. We can easliy observed the authour’s skepticism to the Christian Church and it’s doctrines. From the first poem to this one, we can find that the author’s attitude towards religion. In the first poem, she pray, but when she found no response, she doubt God’s exsiting. In the latter poem, she began to defy God and his doctrines. She thought that nature’s existing gave her more relief than going to church and ask God for help. In the following poem, Dickinson began to express her rebellious spirist against patrichal religion clomination from rational thought like man. Her feminism consciousness grows gardually and her awakeing going deeper. The brain,that is man’s rational thinking is the most inportant things. God is created by people’s thinking. The Brain is wider than the sky--For ---put them side by side---The one the other will contain With ease---and You ----beside

The Brain is deeper than the sea--For---- hold them ---Blue to Blue---- 8 -

济南大学毕业论文

The one the other will absorb--As Sponges ----Buckets---do---

The Brain is just the weight of God---For---Heft them---Pound for Pound---And they will differ----if they do--As syllable from Sound In this poem, the author indicate that the barin is “wider than the sky”, ”depper than the sea”, and “just the weight of God”. The brain standard for her rational thingking power. It is the exis of brain--man’s thinking power that created God.The brain is what we thought was God. God is not exit in the real world, it is just the power of our thingking that make the existing of God. In the meantime, the author celebrates the importance and vastness of the brain's abilities. Through this three poems, we can conclude that Emily Dickinson was not a corformist of Christian. She defy God’s holiness and authority, she refuse to obey it. Her deny of God standard for her deny of the patriarchal society.

5.0 Feminism Consciousness in Dickinson’s Love Poems
Feminist think both male and femal have the equal right to express love. Emily Dickinson is such a person who is brave to express her love. ”Wild Nights” is this kind of poem. Thomas Wentworth Higginson once once wrote in his letter when he was edit Dickinson’s poem “One poem only I dread a little to print----that wonder Wild Nights--lest the malignant read into it more than that virgin recluse ever dreamed of putting there…..” From this letter we can feel Emily Dickinson’s breavity and boldness to express her love passion. This is a big challege to the role the society has given to woman at that time. Obviously, it reveal her consciousness of feminism. Wild Nights --- Wild Night! Were I with thee, Wild nights should be
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济南大学毕业论文

Our luxury!

Futile the winds--To a heart in port--Done with the compass--Done with the chart

Rowing in Eden--Ah, the sea Might I but moor---Tonight In thee! The author express love, passion,and sexual desire in this poem. The fist staza explains two lovers’ passionate encounter. The poet express her love passion in the second and third stanza in an unabashed manner. Obviouly, she long for equal love not the tradtional marriage that man-made law society allots to women without consulting their own will. The first personal pronoun “I” emphasize the author is an independent individual. It is our “luxury”, not man’s luxury only. This is a big transition, in patriarchal society, woman are passive receivers, they have to accept the order that is given by men. But Emily Dickinson alters the position between man and womean. She is so fearless to cry out woman’s needs. All in all, her female self consciousness and feminst tendencies is penetrated by this poem.

6.0 Conclusion
This paper focuses on the anlysis of Emily Dickinson’s feminity potery. These poems include her love pem, poem of nature and religioous poem. Through her attitude towards nature, religion, and love which reflect in her poems,and by the using of feminiam theory we conclude that Emily Dickinson was a woman who is very different from the traditional one, she is a rebellious and anti-traditional woman who has some feminism consciousness.

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济南大学毕业论文

Bibliography
[1] Farr, Judith. The Passion of Emily Dickinson [M]. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1992. [2] Gaard Greta. Ecofeminism: Woman, Animals, Nature Nunan [Ed]. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993. [3] Higginson, Thomas Wentworth. Letters and Journals of Thomas Wentworth Higginson, 1846-1906 [M]. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1921. [4] Homas, Margret. Woman Writers and Poetic Identity [M]. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980. [5] Johnson, Thomas H. The Complete Poems of Emliy Dickinson [Eds]. Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1997. [6] Juhaszm, Susan. Feminist Critics Read Emily Dickinson [M]. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984. [7] Kirk, Connie. Emily Dickinson --- A Biography [M]. America: Green wood Press,2004. [8] Mitchell, Juliet, Jacqueline, Rose. Feminine Sexuality [M]. London: Macmillan, 1982 [9] Miranda Fricker, Jennifer Hornsby, The Cambridge Companion to Feminism in Philosophy [M]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. [10] Martin, Wendy. The Cambridge Companion to Emily Dickinson [M]. England: Cambridge University Press, 2002. [11] Stein, Nany Rachel. Shifting the Ground: Four American Women’s Revision of Nature, Gender, and Race [M]. New Jersey: New Brunswick, 1994. [12] Tate, Allen. “Emily Dickinson” Interpretation of American Literature [M]. New York: Oxford University, 1959. [13] 常耀信. 美国文学简史[M]. 天津: 南开大学出版社, 2008. [14] 刘守兰. 狄金森研究[M]. 上海: 上海外语教育出版社, 2006. [15] 江枫. 狄金森诗选[M]. 北京: 中央编译出版社, 2004.

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[16] 李玲. 狄金森诗歌----女性意识觉醒的标志[J]. 邵阳师范高等专科学校学报, 2000, (3). [17] 薛春霞. 艾米丽·狄金森的女性个体主义[J]. 四川外国语学院学报, 2003, (4). [18] 肖魏. 女性主义伦理学[M]. 四川: 四川人民出版社, 2000. [19] 张京瑗. 当代女性主义文学批评[M]. 北京: 北京大学出版社, 1992. [20] 朱立元. 当代西方文艺理论[M]. 上海: 上海华东师范大学出版社, 1959.

Acknowledgements

I am greatly indebted to my supervisor Miss. Zhao jing, who has given me valuable advice and enlightened me on a number of academic problems concerning my thesis. Thanks should also be given to teachers and my classmates, who helped me a lot during the accomplishment of my thesis.

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