'Arcturus' is his other name
By: Emily Dickinson
Part IV: Short Essay
Emily Dickinson had a very strong and sometimes depressing view of death. Many of her poems were written from a first person point of view describing people slowly going crazy. Often times, Dickinson would use funerals and/or death itself as metaphors to symbolize characters in her poems feeling as if parts of them (spiritually and physically) were slowly dying. For example, in the poem: “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” Ms. Dickinson uses the concept of a funeral (lines 1-4) as a metaphor to describe her character slowly but surely losing her mind. After reading this, one could almost assume that Ms. Dickinson wrote the poem to help cope and come to grasps with the sad fact that sooner or later everybody dies. One thing that really stands out in this poem is when Ms. Dickinson speaks about “losing” her mind and becoming insane. The so called “funeral” taking place in her head is simply a figure of speech describing the gradual deterioration of her intellect.
Another belief that may have been held by Dickinson is that the holy customs and rites regarding funerals, is the closest that many individuals will ever come to understanding the extremely vague concept of death before they too “kick the bucket”. This belief can be found in Dickinson’s allegoric poem: “The Bustle in a House” (lines 1-4) . In this particular poem, Dickinson chooses her words carefully, making sure to use words with meanings that can be interpreted several different ways. For example, in the second line of “The Bustle in a house”, it is no happenstance that Dickinson uses the word “morning” which is a homograph for mourning, the traditional demonstration of anguish that Dickinson builds upon later in the poem. Lines 5-6 of “The Bustle in a House” use house cleaning as a figure of speech to describe the process of “moving on” after losing a loved one. Many people oftentimes use mundane tasks such as house keeping, to help distract them during times of hardship. When Dickinson writes “The sweeping up the heart, And putting love away” (lines 5-6) her meaning is somewhat unclear, although I think that when she says heart, she might be referring to the analogous word hearth. The hearth (fireplace) would need to be cleaned before relatives of the deceased arrived to pay their respects. In past times, most people were under the impression that after someone died, it was the responsibility of that person’s family to clean their home, so that others would come to visit. However, this was oftentimes easier said than done, since every house contains evidence of the existence of the departed. Another possible meaning one could derive from these two lines, is that the heart, shattered into fragments by grief, must be brushed off and placed in a secret place. Love similar to reminiscence, must be hidden in a secure location.
The character I picked for my summary is John Proctor. Mr. Proctor indirectly and unwittingly causes the Salem Witch Trials by having an affair with his servant girl, Abigail Williams. After discovering her husband’s affair, Elizabeth Proctor fires Abigail and forces her to leave their house. This, combined with an increasing obsession with John, forces Abigail to dance in the woods with Tituba and the village girls in hope that Tituba will cast a spell to make John fall in love with her. It is after Reverend Parris, Abigail’s uncle, discovers them dancing in the woods that Abigail and the other girls begin throwing around accusations of witchcraft. With revenge on her mind, Abigail accuses Goody Proctor of “witching” her. After having her house searched, Elizabeth is arrested for being a witch. Her husband does everything he can to prove her innocence, but thanks to the biased Judge Danforth, it is all in vain.
Irony plays an important role in “The Crucible”. One example of irony would be when John attempts to show that Abigail is not as pure and truthful as she seems. He tries to do this by confessing to having an affair with her. Ironically, Elizabeth (who has never in her entire life told a lie) , when called upon by Danforth to back John’s claim of adultery, unknowing of his confession, lies to protect her husband’s name. Eventually, John himself is accused of witchcraft, as luck would have it, by the very girl who attempts to help clear both his wife and his friends’ names, Mary Warren. John and his wife refuse to admit that they are “witches”; they both are sentenced to hang. A few months later, an extraordinary event takes place within the prison where John, Elizabeth, and their friends are being held. Elizabeth turns out to be pregnant and tells Danforth, who at first does not believe her. Not wanting to go against the Bible and harm an innocent child, Danforth decides to spare her life for the remainder of her pregnancy.
Fearing crowd riots at the execution of John and his friends, Danforth, Parris, and Hale convince Elizabeth to speak with John to persuade him to confess. After speaking with his wife and taking into consideration the future of his children, John decides to confess in order to have his life spared. As Danforth is recording John’s confession, John abruptly decides that he would rather hang than confess to something he did not do. So he rips up the confession statement, which ultimately seals his fate.
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Analysis Of A Poem
'Arcturus' is his other name
By: Emily Dickinson
Part I: Analysis of a poem
'Arcturus' is his other name—
I'd rather call him 'Star.'
It's very mean of Science
To go and interfere!
I slew a worm the other day—
A 'Savant' passing by
'Oh Lord—how frail are we'!
I pull a flower from the woods—
A monster with a glass
Computes the stamens in a breath—
And has her in a 'class'!
Whereas I took the Butterfly
Aforetime in my hat—
He sits erect in 'Cabinets'—
The Clover bells forgot.
What once was 'Heaven'
Is 'Zenith' now—
Where I proposed to go
When Time's brief masquerade was done
Is mapped and charted too.
What if the poles should frisk about
And stand upon their heads!
I hope I'm ready for 'the worst'—
Whatever prank betides!
Perhaps the 'Kingdom of Heaven's' changed—
I hope the 'Children' there Won't be 'new fashioned' when I come—
And laugh at me—and stare—
I hope the Father in the skies
Will lift his little girl—
Over the stile of 'Pearl.'
I feel that Ms. Dickinson is trying to express how sick and tired she is of science and scientists interfering with nature and making everything more complicated than it really is. For example, in lines 1-4, Ms. Dickinson talks about a particular star with the scientific name 'Arcturus' that she refers to as “star”. Ms. Dickinson wishes scientists would not interfere with nature and would stop referring to stars by scientific names.
In lines 5-8, Emily recounts a past experience in which she killed a worm as a ‘Savant’ (French for a person of high intelligence) was passing by, prompting the man to call the worm by its specific scientific name, centipede. The man then says to the now deceased worm, “Resurgam (Latin for “I shall rise again”) — Centipede' if you have ever tried to kill a centipede, you know how difficult it is, since they always seem to “rise again”. In line # 8, when the man says: 'Oh Lord—how frail are we! ” He seems to be referring to how frail humans are compared to the seemingly ever living centipede.
Lines 9-12 have Ms. Dickinson recalling another past experience in which she pulled a flower in the woods, only to have a botanist with a magnifying glass, whom she metaphorically refers to as a “monster with a glass”, examine and classify it.
Lines 13-16 describe how in the past, Dickinson was able to admire butterflies in their natural habitats without annoying scientists running around catching and classifying everything in sight. Now she can no longer marvel at the sheer beauty of butterflies in their natural environments. Instead, she now must think of butterflies as “scientific specimens” and not just simple butterflies. Also, she can no longer observe them in their natural habitats; instead she must look at them lying in cabinets and frames dead as can be.
In lines 17-21, Emily used to hope that when she died, she would get to heaven which used to be mysterious and unknown. But now heaven is no longer unknown, now it is “mapped and charted”.
I believe that the “poles” Dickinson is referring to in lines 22-25, are none other than the North and South Poles. She is saying that her life is so complicated that if the world itself were to literally turn upside down, she would not be surprised.
Lines 27-29 are important because Emily refers to a passage in the Bible (Matthew 19: 14) where Jesus said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for such is the kingdom of heaven.” Suffer, in this context, does not mean harm. Basically, Emily is hoping that when she dies and goes to heaven, the sweet and innocent children of God will not change like everything else around her.
Lines 30-33 Emily feels that although everything else has changed, she is still the same. She hopes that because of this, God will help her over the pearly gates and lift her into heaven, just the way she is.
In conclusion, Ms. Dickinson enjoyed and appreciated nature and felt that everything was more beautiful naturally. I believe that the overall message of this poem is that Ms. Dickinson preferred things simple and old fashioned, rather than complicated and new fashioned. Her strong feelings and beliefs make her poem unique and meaningful.