In the eighteenth century America was obsessed with ethicality; people lived by the rules of religion. Although, who is to say what is ethical? It is another being who determines ethicality and it is only in accordance with their rules, you must conform to their standards of right and wrong, thus the question is “ Whose ethical views are most important to follow? From the making of America religion has played the biggest role in human ethicality, with the Bible being our handbook.
However, in a time of evolutionary discoveries such as Darwinism, Emily Dickinson questions the idea that conventional faith, such as Christianity, is the belief in ethicality or a truth. It is evident that Dickinson declines the customary religious ideas of truth, but this does not mean declined faith. By exploring Emily Dickinson’s lifestyle and experiences through both her biography and her poetic works I aim to argue that it is not religion Dickinson doesn’t conform to but society’s standards of ethics through religion and she instead follows her own faith, in truth.
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Dickinson instructs the reader to, Tell all the Truth but tell it slant (1) because ?The Truth must dazzle gradually / Or every man be blind (7-8). She is stating that people have the ethical obligation to tell the truth, yet she warns her reader to tell it at an angle because the truth can be too much for people’s weak perceptions to cope with, and you must protect the people from the pure and blinding light of truth. Some may infer, the truth Dickinson speaks of, is the truth of reality or facts that reject the notion of faith, but perhaps she is really referring to personal truth that is idiosyncratic. She wants the reader to tell the truth but their own truth, as she does, she wants them not feel pressured to conform to the truth that is placed on them by society and religion.
Emily Dickinson’s audience and unique secluded lifestyle helped her find her truth and which played a major role in her writings. With never having the intentions of being published or the need for fame, as she suggests in, I’m Nobody! Who are you? her writings are exclusively her own truth. She says, how dreary “ to be “ Somebody! / How public “ like a Frog, here she is pointing out that anonymity is preferred over public recognition and privacy is a thing of luxury. Dickinson inherited Puritan traits of simplicity, practicality, and a discerning observation of the inner self, yet her communication with religion was much more distant than her God-fearing forefathers would have dreamt. Thanks to her family’s wealth and understanding Dickinson was permitted to escape the pressures of society and the role most women were required to play at the time.
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