Upon a first reading of Emily Dickinson’s poem’s I found them very difficult to understand due to her unique style of writing. Once I was able to comprehend the general theme of her poems, they became clearer with profound meaning. Dickinson’s writing style, leaving words absent and not completing sentences, allows the reader to fill in the gaps through reflection of their own life and experiences. Dickinson writes from experiences that have occurred in and around her life, her writing technique requires the reader to delve deep into their soul to apply the meaning that will bring a feeling of peace and understanding. Poem #508 speaks to the heart of every woman who has endured the bittersweet challenges of entering adulthood. Dickinson employs a female speaker to describe the emotions a woman faces leaving her childhood behind to enter adulthood and deciding whether to marry.
There is sadness and resignation in the tone of the speaker. Aware she cannot remain under the security of her parents forever, she must decide to marry or become a spinster. Having limited opportunities as a woman in the nineteenth century, she is aware her most sensible choice is to marry. In the first stanza, the speaker’s sadness is evident when she states, “I’m ceded- I’ve stopped being Theirs-” (1), implying that being given up to marriage, she is losing her identity she obtained through her parents. In order to become betrothed, she must exchange her family name for her husband’s name, thus severing the bond she shares with her parents. The second stanza continues the sad tone as the speaker laminates, “And They can put it with my Dolls, My Childhood, and the string of spools, I’ve finished threading-too-” (5-7).
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Her sadness at this point is the result of leaving al of her childhood dreams and trifles behind and giving up her family name, to enter her new life, as a wife. As her new life will take her in another direction, she no longer has room for the things that brought her pleasure as a child. Spiritual faith is prominent in the third stanza. It is apparent the speaker is to be married in a church before the eyes of God as she has chosen unlike when she was “Baptized, before, without the choice,” (8) as an infant. Having the knowledge of her faith and what is expected of her as she reaches maturity, she dons her “small Diadem” (13), which is the symbol of her transformation from child to married woman. Sadness and resignation seem to be the focus of the fourth and final stanza.
The speaker “A half unconscious Queen-” (16) does not see her life as a wife evolving beyond what her life as a child had. Having been under the control of her parents, her decision to marry will result in her being under the control of her husband. Fully aware of her prospects if she were to chose the alternative, she resigns herself to her decision as she states, “And I choose, just a Crown.” (19) Although this poem runs only nineteen lines, Dickinson has successfully and eloquently revealed the sadness women endure from having to resign themselves to the fact they have only one true option in life once maturity is attained, marriage.