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Her behavior at social gatherings in the Dickinson home, while she still attended them, was distinct.
She asked whether a guest would rather have a glass of wine or a rose.
Some critics speculate that her withdrawal enabled her to write her poetry; it gave her both the space to write (her room) and the time to write by freeing her from woman's duties.
Not even her sister Lavinia, on whom she depended, knew the extent of Emily's writing, not until she came across over 1700 poems after Emily's death.
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Almost unknown as a poet in her lifetime, Emily Dickinson is now recognized as one of America's greatest poets and, in the view of some, as one of the greatest lyric poets of all time.
Why is a good general knowledge of Emily Dickinson's life useful for interpreting her poems? How can knowledge of Emily Dickinson's life be misused in interpreting her poems? Compare and contrast "We play at Paste" (320) and "Essential Oils — are wrung" (675). Discuss the use of abstractions as vivid metaphors in I dwell in Possibility" (657). Compare and contrast the use of animals as symbols in Dickinson's love poems. Discuss the relationship between deprivation and fulfillment in Dickinson's love poems. Compare and contrast Dickinson's joyful and melancholy responses to nature. Discuss the use of metaphors in Dickinson's nature scenes. Discuss Dickinson's various tones, from ecstatic to anguished, in showing how rebirth can come from suffering. Discuss the figure of the speaker as a little girl in Dickinson's poems. Offer detailed arguments for the varying interpretations of "Because I could not stop for Death" (712). Compare and contrast the changes of mood dramatized in "This world is not Conclusion" (501) and I know that He exists" (338). Discuss the figure of death as a lover in Dickinson's poems. Compare and contrast Dickinson's first-person and third-person death scenes. Discuss in detail your reasons for disagreeing with any whole interpretation of a poem made in these Notes.
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The large number of poems she wrote (over 1700 of them) makes it easy for critics to find support for their theories.
And the fact that her life, her poems, and her letters are often difficult, if not impossible to understand invites speculation.