Gender Roles In Emily Dickinson

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Emily Dickinson was in a time where women were primarily raised to be the accommodating housewife, bound to the household duties of everyday life and social conventions created by a patriarchal society, which continued the diversion of both genders into different spheres of society. In “Emily Dickinson and Popular Culture”, David S. Reynolds, a new historicism critic, wrote that it's no surprise that the majority of Dickinson's poetry was produced between 1858-1866, “It was a period of extreme consciousness about proliferation of varied women's role in American culture.” It was a time where women were actively searching for more “literary” ways of self expression (Reynolds :25).
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A girl is supposed to sacrifice all the her needs, her emotions, her personality to take the “honourable work “ of wife. Emily Dickinson in her poem “ she rose to his requirements” has subtly brought the small and big sacrifices made by the girl in front of the society, which goes unnoticed .
“She rose to his requirement, dropped
The playthings of her life
To take the honorable work
Of woman and of wife." She further critics the way women’s dreams, ambitions are laid unmentioned as weeds and those of men’s as of pearl. Emily Dickinson in these poems basically showing society’s view of female inferiority. The young woman described in these poem are full of potential, but is denied of it because she has to take the traditional role of women.
“It lay unmentioned, as the sea
Develops pearl and weed,
But only to himself is known
The fathoms they
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The solemn contract of a life
Was ratified this way.”

“At least, ’t is mutual risk,—
Some found it mutual gain;
Sweet debt of Life,—each night to owe,
Insolvent, every noon”

Emily Dickinson's poetry illustrated a discontent with the idea of marriage . Her poetry contains many references to gender issues, the civil war, and shifts in religious views. Reynolds argues, “She was unique among American women of her day in the breath of her awareness of the most experimental tendencies in contemporary American culture” (Reynolds 112).She had become the voice of the women who suffered due to the different roles played by the two different genders.

Reference :
De Beauvoir, Simone.2012. The second sex. Random House LLC.
Reynolds, David.”Emily Dickinson and popular culture.”Bloom's Modern Critical Views:Emily Dickinson. Ed. Bloom,Harold. New York: Infobase Publishing,2008. 111-134.Print
Primary source:
Dickinson, Emily. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. Boston: Little, Brown, 1924;, 2000.
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