What is Dickinson's
attitude toward death? From these attitudes toward death, what can
be deduced about her attitude toward life? Is the image of death
employed symbolically? Is death a way of portraying life? What sort
of life could be seen as a form of death? How does her puritanical
upbringing factor into such perceptions? How about her Romantic
inclinations? How do such contrasting views of life determine the
vision and images of her poetry?
Who is Dickinson
referring to in "Safe in their Alabaster Chambers" (Poem
#216)? Who are the "meek members of the Resurrection"?
Is this term ironic? How do the images of the first stanza
contrast with those of the second? What opposing principles or sets
of ideas are embodied in those images? How does Dickinson resolve
or decide the outcome of that opposition? What does she favor? Is
there irony in the last line? Who are the sagacious dead?
What is Dickinson's
attitude toward nature? How is nature or the natural world used
in her poetry? What ideas are conveyed through her particular use
of nature? What literary and intellectual movement is the source
of these perceptions?
From what is
told through her poetry, how does Dickinson view the supernatural?
Does she believe in God or a Supreme Being or Force? Life after
death? What is Dickinson suggesting in Poem #258, "There's
a certain Slant of light"? What is "the Heft/Of Cathedral
Tunes?" What does this poem say about Dickinson's ideas on
religion? How does this compare with Poem #632 ("The Brain-is
wider than the Sky-")?
Based on Poem
#449 ("I died for Beauty--but was scarce"), what are Dickinson's thoughts on Truth and Beauty? What intellectual
and literary movements are those concepts associated with? What
are her ideas about the intellectual and the aesthetic? Does she
favor any one of them over the other? Why are the speakers in the
poem portrayed as corpses in adjacent tombs? What is the failure
they refer to?
What are the
implications of Poem #435 ("Much Madness is divinest Sense-")?
What issues is she addressing here? Who are the mad? Who are the
sane? Who or what is the "Majority"? What aspects of her
culture and social situation is she hinting at?
What is the
significance of Poem #465 ("I heard a Fly buzz- when I died-")?
What issues are addressed here? Is there any treatment of the idea
of the afterlife? What conclusions does the poem seem to reach in
that respect? How is life itself perceived?
What is the
meaning of Poem #585 ("I like to see it lap the Miles-")?
What does the poem seem to be talking about? What is it actually
referring to? Why the contrast between the literal and the underlying
meaning? How does that contrast contribute to the point the poem
may be trying to make?
What does Poem
#657 ("I dwell in Possibility-") suggest about poetry
and Dickinson's use of it? What does poetry allow her to do? What
does it offer to her? What does "Prose" stand for? Why
the architectural images? Why is poetry a house? What is the significance
of the final lines, "The spreading wide my narrow Hands, to
gather Paradise-"? What is paradise for Dickinson? Where is
it to be found?
What may be
the central meaning of "My life had stood - a Loaded Gun -
" (#754)? Why is this poem very significant as a definition
of Dickinson's life and work? Why is the gun personified?
Who is the gun? Who is the owner? What is the purpose and function
of guns? How does that relate to the life and activity of Dickinson?
What ideas do the images of the glowing valley and the "Vesuvian
face" conjure? Is there irony in the ending of this poem? Do
any reversals of attitude occur? Who is judged? How? Who is this
gun aimed at?
What is Dickinson
suggesting in "Tell the Truth but tell it slant" (#1129)?
How does this poem relate to her own practice as a poet and writer?
Why must the truth be somewhat veiled? What truth is she referring
make any statements about social, economic, political, or cultural
problems? How about the Civil War or slavery? The condition of women?
The culture and religion of America? What seem to be her attitudes
toward some of these issues?