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Belonging Essay Emily Dickinson And Anna Karenina

951 words - 4 pages

Good Morning Year 12 and teachers. Within Emily Dickinson’s Romantic poems ‘I had been hungry all the years’ and ‘I gave myself to him’ and Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina, the authors recognize differing sides of social isolation and the social and personal contexts of the authors and characters, which shape the character’s isolation. In both texts the characters’ happiness is contingent on whether the choice is conscious or not. This in turn has shaped my understanding of the perplexing concept of belonging.

Both authors present isolated female protagonists. They show how society has strong expectations of women, which ultimately in these texts lead to their isolation. Emily ...view middle of the document...

She does not conform to her Puritan society and remains content unlike the persona who yields to society, which results only in isolation. In essence, she trades personal happiness and self-identity for social isolation.

In ‘I had been hungry all the years’; Dickinson uses the metaphor of hunger to describe the depth of her initial desire to belong to society. Her hunger is analogous to her desire for emotional and mental belonging. The syntax of phrases such as “ I trembling, drew the table near” suggests her unfamiliarity in sharing a social connection in the word “ trembling”. This is further reinforced through the use of the transferred epithet of the wine as “curious” used to suggest alienation of this experience. As the persona experiences her desire, she soon feels like ‘ a berry of a mountain bush/transplanted to the road’. The initial bewitchment of the laden table repulses her in its artificiality, reflected in her distinct preference for the ‘crumb’. Now in a position to sate her hunger, Dickinson finds that her hunger has disappeared. In other words, having achieved her goal she continued to feel a sense of social isolation. Hence both the persona and Dickinson isolate themselves from society, which can be seen as self-imposed. Their happiness is contingent with their conscious choice of not wanting to belong.

Dickinson and Tolstoy differ in their portrayal of female protagonists; Dickinson epitomizes a woman of strong inner strength, able to withstand social isolation. Her choice to remain a spinster illustrates a moral high ground, unwilling to let social convention warp her perspectives. In contrast, Anna Karenina initially conforms to social expectations. Eventually, however, she defies societal norms by committing adultery flagrantly and living with Vronsky. Anna’s choice to commit adultery is not frowned upon; rather it is her inability to not to keep a...

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