For this paper, my professor asked the class to write an essay centered on an Emily Dickinson poem that “pulls you in different directions.” My approach for this essay, and I have my professor to thank for this, was to write it in several steps. The paper started with a simple assignment: choose a poem which can be read in more than one way, or which seems to have more than one meaning, and write a page or two about it. With the poem itself analyzed, it then became a matter of linking this analysis to Dickinson’s works as a whole—using her hundreds of poems, her personal letters, and her manuscripts to build a larger argument incorporating the original poem.
I chose “The Angle of a Landscape—” because of the way Dickinson’s own perspective changes drastically in one instant within the poem, when she awakens and mistakes a bough of apples outside her bedroom window for an angled landscape. It struck me that Dickinson was commenting on how the entire scale and nature of an object depends entirely on one’s viewpoint, and how, in a larger sense, this might relate to poetry itself as well as Dickinson’s dedication to poetry as an art form. The most difficult part of this assignment for me was to avoid creating an argument that was too broad or vague. I had developed an idea—that poetry, for Dickinson, combines her need for both the changing and unchanging elements in her life. In order to make the most concrete argument possible, I searched through her poems, letters, and manuscripts to find textual proof to back up each of my claims along the way. In the end, I believe it was the multi-layered approach I took, as well as my professor’s guidance and encouragement, which enabled me to create such a strong final product.
MICHELE BUONANDUCI was born and raised locally in southeastern Massachusetts. Currently she is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences majoring in environmental science and hoping to minor in mathematics. This essay was written for Thomas Otten’s EN220: American Gothic.