'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.