Emily Dickinson, consciousness, self


Many of Emily Dickinson’s poems reflect a profound curiosity about the concept of the self, its limits, and its relationship to the body. While much has been written about the influence of religion on Dickinson’s poetry, few scholars have focused on the influence that prominent philosophers, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, may have had on Dickinson’s work. Emerson’s arguments about the role of consciousness and subjectivity in human experience were widely circulated in Dickinson’s time, and evidence of the poet’s engagement with these issues can be seen in many of her poems. Dickinson repeatedly returns to questions about the physical location of the self, one’s relationship to the self, and the connection between self, mind, and body Through a close reading of four poems (“I am afraid to own a Body;” “The Body grows without;” “I cannot see my soul but know ‘tis there;” “The Soul unto itself”), this paper explores Dickinson’s treatment of the self and her engagement with questions of identity and consciousness.

Issue and Volume

Vol. 11, no. 1