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`` It Was Not Death, For I Stood Up, By Emily Dickinson

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“Mental Illness in Literature: How mental illness can be detected in mediums such as written literature, letters, and medical history; with a specific focus on Emily Dickinson’s link of mental illness to reclusiveness within her works titled “It was not Death, for I stood up,” “After great pain, a Formal feeling comes,” “I dwell in Possibility,” “My Life had stood—a Loaded Gun,” and “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant”.” Emily Dickinson is one of the most influential female poets of the 19th century. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1830, Dickinson began her life as a normal child. Growing up, Dickinson had more opportunities than most women of the 19th century; being able to attend the all-female Amherst Academy, as well as Mount…show more content…
Theodora Ward, a transcriber and analyst of Dickinson’s letters, describes the letters and poems to take on “acute sensitivity.” (Ward) Emily Dickinson did not reach her full potential as a poet until the 1860’s. Before her thirtieth birthday is when Emily Dickinson decided to never leave her home again. The decision, stated by Theodora Ward, was “clearly reflected in the letters after 1860” (Ward). Emily Dickinson’s poem My Life Had Stood – A Loaded Gun was written circa 1862, just two years after her decision to never leave her home again. This poem incorporates the theme of death; but it a different context. Dickinson does not refer to death as the powerful main focus, but moreover the ability to die. In the second stanza, the focus shifts from a gun as the main subject of the poem to Dickinson using the term “We” to become the voice and guardian of the master. The gun serves as a symbol for the relationship between life and death, and while the gun can outlive its master; it really never lives at all without the power to die. If Dickinson spoke about death in this context, could she be in a manic depression in which she cares no longer to live? (Ward) Emily Dickinson was healthy most of her life. When she was younger, she displayed symptoms of having tuberculosis. Her father, Edward Dickinson, was very afraid of the disease and had her treated immediately. Other than the tuberculosis
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