Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Much Madness is divinest Sense" by Emily Dickinson

As usual, Emily Dickinson's poetry was a little out there. This poem, however, completely centered around a paradox between sense and madness. In the opening lines, "much madness is divinest sense to a discerning eye, much sense the starkest madness", she immediately starts with a cryptic message. Basically, Dickinson is saying that it is mad to have sense and that it is sensible to have madness. She talks about how the majority of people have sense, but then hints that she does not agree with the majority. This isn't particularly hard to believe considering she seems to write poetry about insanity quite frequently. By "assenting" to become part of this majority, she says that a person is sane. If an individual objects to do so, then they are mad. In the context of the poem, it sounds as though she is criticizing those who assent with the majority. It appears that Emily is criticizing society in this poem and the people who enforce the way it works. She says that those who possess sense are all conforming to society and its practices and anyone who disagrees is treated like a crazy person. Think about Galileo Galilei, who had the idea that the earth was round hundreds of years ago. Even though he ended up being right, he was treated as a heretic at the time. The speaker says that if we never listen to new ideas of people, we'll never grow as a society. As I've learned from history, this statement is quite true.

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