The Soul Selects her own Society by Emily Dickinson - Poem Analysis Essay

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Emily Dickinson’s poem expresses an aphoristic and unique style of poetry whereby a broad meaning of an idea is shown through few words. However, the poem is still elaborative and understandable. Emily has an impressive poetic form through her ABCD rhyme scheme, four-line stanzas, and changing of words. In the poem, The Soul selects her own Society she tries to express the emotions and general feelings about friendship like in the line Then closes the valves of her attention. This poem reflects the feelings and thoughts experienced in life. The poem entails hard and brilliant language that reveals its meaning quickly and makes it unforgettable.

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What Is the Meaning of the Soul Selects Her Own Society?

This poem is about love, and it shows the idea of choosing a friend and rejecting others. It is about rejection, selection of those around anyone, and self-reliance. The soul just as any other organ in the body represents individual factors. For instance, the stomach represents hunger and appetite. The soul, in this case, intends to represent the emotions and intellectual needs of everyone. The soul takes into account the general feelings everyone has like in the line divine majority; there is the general aspect of every human being. The soul seems to contain every person, the superior, inferior, like in the phrase chariots pausing, and emperor kneeling, depicts that everyone wants to go through the soul. Therefore, it is upon the soul to choose who enters and by this, it only has two options. These options are that she either select one person or let them all in. The poem has a hidden expression of the words like in the previous phrase one might think that the emperor is the one not scared while it the heart unmoved by the emperors kneeling in front of her.

The question is whether the soul will allow anyone. In the line Choose one, it is as if the heart decides on what way to go. In the next line Then close the valves of her attention, there is the point as to what qualities are valves made of. The soul has to lock the valve of her attention, but the idea as to whether the closed valve will let anything. This leads to the last line which is Like stone. Emily had a hidden meaning in the last line since the stone has certain features that make it intact. For example, stones are always hard, soft, warm, and flexible. All these features attribute to the soul. This poem has unique features like in every stanza the first line is longer than the remaining ones and then the second and the fourth lines are shorter respectively. This feature shows Dickinson’s tendency of writing lines in units of two. The whole meaning of this poem is on whether one should choose to love one friend and exclude the others. This poem gives an accurate reflection on Dickinson, who always had few friends and relatives. By this, she selected her society and was never interested in looking for more.

What Literary Elements Is Used in the Soul Selects Her Own Society?

The Soul selects her own Society, has various poetic elements in it and these items include imagery, metaphor, and simile among others. Imagery is the scenario where a poem creates a picture through words. The poem portrays different pictures in different lines through its instinctive preferences and choices. There is a different picture of the soul that defines it to be living in a space with a mat, gate, and door. The poem has a metaphor since it describes one thing as the other. The line Then closes the valves of her attention, it refers to the heart where certain decisions are made. The poem has simile in it since it compares one thing with the other. For example in the line Like stone, the word like is used for comparison that refers to the soul. The soul is referred to as stone since she is unmoved and retains her choice.

Emily Dickinson the Soul Selects Her Own Society Critical Analysis

Anthony Hecht criticizes Dickinson’s poem to be non-rational and defiant as it gives allegiances to issues like love and feelings without considering one’s personal advantage. Hecht has the view that the poem is private use as it guards and reflects the poet’s life and emotions. He further asserts that there is confusion of metaphor. He states that The mixed metaphor of the last two lines ("Then close the valves of her attention/Like stone") could be rather comfortably resolved if we substituted "heart" for "soul," since hearts can be "stony" and they have valves. In this statement, he refers to the point where Dickinson uses valves to refer to the soul, yet they are meant for the heart.

Suzanne Juhasz also has a different view of the poem. She denotes that the poem talks of selfish attributes since the soul are shown to have a limited space shown through mat, door, and gate. Through this, the external world is kept out since those outside the gate are not involved. She further reveals that the poem gives much power to oneself since the soul is not only referred to as divine but also has the identity of the majority. She states that the poem also challenges our ideas about what constitutes a social group. Dickinson’s poem gives a diverse view about love as it describes it as exclusive.

The Soul Selects Her Own Society Quotes

  • “The Soul selects her own Society — Then — shuts the Door — To her divine Majority — Present no more —”

  • I've known her—from an ample nation — Choose One — Then — close the Valves of her attention — Like Stone —”

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