Analysis of Emily Dickinson’s Poem, “There’s a Certain Slant of Light”
In Emily Dickinson’s poem, “There’s a Certain Slant of Light”, the speaker portrays “the slant of light” negatively, suggesting the light is loneliness, sorrow and despair that causes depression (Line 1). I will argue my point by showing how Dickinson uses literary devices to illuminate how depression is the potential demise of the soul.
Dickinson uses imagery sets the stage for loneliness, despair and depression by writing, “There’s a Certain Slant of Light- Winter Afternoons” (Line 1). Here, the speaker asserts that the image of winter’s late afternoon is gloomy, cold, and dark suggesting loneliness. The speaker also asserts that the image of the light is nothing more that depression creeping in, similar to the way late afternoon light does then all of a sudden “it“ is dark like death. The nest 2 lines “That oppresses like the Heft of Cathedral Tunes” further ...view middle of the document...
The speaker asserts that depression leaves no external scar that is visible. It is only the internally the scars can be found that depression can cause taking over the soul therefore diving deeper into despair.
Rhythm and Rhyme
Dickinson uses rhythm and rhyme especially here with the use of “Despair and “Air” (Line 10, 12). The speaker displays the possible depths of depression by suggesting that it is hard to deal with, difficult to escape, and can afflict everyone as if it is “Sent us of the Air” (Line 12). She capitalized air and despair possibly to signify the importance of the words as related to “An Imperial affliction” potentially saying that it can affect anyone and everyone (Line 11). The rhythm perhaps assists readers of the poem to meditate and pause in order to grasp a better meaning of the poem. The speaker then suggests that the depression is inward with the words, “None may teach it Any ‘Tis the Seal Despair” (Line 9-10). The speaker depicts that seal as a lid that closes upon the despair or depression indicating that once struck with depression without help conquering will be impossible.
Dickinson uses personification to further lend weight to the depth depression can wield. She writes, “When it comes, the Landscape listens-Shadows hold their breath” (Line13-14). The speaker asserts that depression is so costly, that even the earth stops to listen and shadows fear the dismal light of depression indicating that depression creates havoc for everyone. In the last two lines of the poem Dickinson writes,”When it goes, ‘tis the Distance On the look of Death” (Line 15-16). I’d like to entertain that the speaker is saying, depression steals the soul, and makes one look like that have been ripped of everything taking all one has.
In this poem, Dickinson uses specific literary devices to enhance the possible meanings of her poem. The speaker suggests light is nothing more than depression that eats away at the soul, sealing the despair inside. Furthermore, the speaker suggests that internally loneliness and sorrow smolders which over time causes depression and steals the soul. The important thing to remember is depression is universal and can potentially happen to us all.