I Dwell On Possibility By Emily Dickinson - AP Literature - Essay

782 words - 4 pages

Bianca Salazar
AP English Literature
01 January 2019
I dwell in Possibilty by Emily Dickinson
In Emily Dickinson’s poem, “ I dwell in Possibility”, the speaker uses symbolism,
metaphors, imagery, alliteration, and structure to not only express her gratitude towards
poetry, but also allow the audience to see how powerful poetry can be by how it
connects the reader and the speaker through just a few words.
Starting with the first stanza, the speaker seems to be comparing poetry to prose
writing. The speaker states, “ A fairer House than Prose -” which introduces the
symbolic meaning of the “house” that is continuously referred to throughout the poem.
It’s logical to say that when the speaker refers to this “house” she is talking about poetry
only because of the fact that “prose”, a very ordinary written language, refers to a style
of writing opposite to poetry. This idea of the house representing poetry, then turns into
an extended metaphor as it compares the two. The speaker then uses imagery to
describe the house as having “more numerous of windows” and “doors” indicating that
poetry is very open and more accessible, which allows for the many interpretations and
perspectives, whereas prose is restricted to having one meaning. Dickinson’s use of
dashes is also very noticeable within this poem as she writes “ -for doors-” this brings
up the question why does she decided to emphasize the doors more than the windows
as previously mentioned in the line before, if they both bring up the same concept of
openness? Doors tend to be a more common and bigger representation of the
“openness” she is trying to get across. Doors are thought of as opening the way the
entrance for something, in this case this suggests the opening the entrance for the
endless interpretations of poetry. Dickinson combined all of these strategies to highlight
that poetry is much more powerful as it has more possibilities as it can be understood
differently by each reader compared to prose that is limited to one.
The poem goes on in the second stanza where the attention shifts from
comparing poetry and prose, but to focusing more on poetry. We continue to see poetry
as a house as the speaker compared the “chambers” of the house to “cedars”, a type of
tree, in the first line of the stanza. The cedars are used to represent a forest and its
openness because the spaces between these trees are very similar to the set up to the
network of chambers in a house. This highlights the concept of how limittless poetry is
through the way the house is desccribed. The extended metaphor as it compared the
“everlasting roof” to “ the Gambrels of the Sky-”. The word “everlasting” hints that the
roof has no end just like poetry has no real ending too because of the fact it means
anything the reader interprets it to be. This extended metaphor makes us wonder why is
the writer comparing poetry to a house that is full of structure if they claim that poetry is
so open? Dickinson wanted us to understand the complexity of her poems; poems have
structure, just like houses do, but still manage open the minds of those who every layer
of a poem with the very few words they have.
As the poem goes on the speaker goes from talking about the house to talking
about “the fairest” visitors, which continues the use of an extended metaphor. The
speaker compares readers of poetry to the visitors of the house. The mention of such
visitors is key to understanding that the openness of poetry is not only good for the poet
but for the readers as well. It can be connected back to the idea of the “numerous
windows” and doors; allowing both the reader to visit her poetry and make different
interpretations reading the same thing. This connects the writer to her audience by
being able to share her work with them. This is further developed as the reader includes
the paradox, “spreading wide my narrow hands” as they explain how they are trying to
grab “paradise”, something that is too huge to be grasped. The writer uses two words
that have opposite meanings as she describes the spreading of her “wide” but “narrow”
hands. The writer places both of these words next to one another to emphasize the idea
that it is something that is very hard to hold. Thus, highlighting that poetry allows the
reader to gain a deeper knowledge that cannot be physically held. It is never actually
said whether she accomplishes that, but her main goal is to create powerful poetry for
her viewers.

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