Analysis of the Battle Royal By Kyra Brue One of the most well-known scenes in literary history is Ralph Ellison’s first chapter of Invisible Man. In this chapter, we are introduced to the nameless protagonist of the story, who is referred to as “the narrator.”…
Rhetorical Analysis: Viola Davis 2018 Women’s March Speech By Kyra Brue On January 20, 2018, actress Viola Davis stood in front of a crowd in Los Angeles and spoke to the world about one of the United States’ most controversial, yet prevalent issues: women’s rights,…
Emily Dickinson lived in a time when women weren’t taken seriously, especially in the writing world. To be a woman in the 1870s was not easy, and a lot of the hardships that she faced can be read throughout her poems. During this time, women couldn’t even vote, let alone get the proper recognition for their writing. The struggle to be heard as a woman was a common occurrence during that time period, and is still found in today’s climate, but the raw and uncensored ideas in her poems allowed for women in that period to be heard. This, in turn, made her into the glorified writer that we know today. Throughout her poems, the reader is transported into her often distraught and depressed mind. The poems that boldly express these emotions, and the ones that are the focus of this paper, include poems 78, 81, and 168. These poems focus on the taboo ideas of depression, madness, and the struggle that comes with being a woman.
“I felt a Funeral in my Brain,” Dickinson begins, immediately setting the gloomy tone of this poem (Dickinson 78). During her life, Dickinson had dealt with the deaths of many of her friends and family members (Ahmadi). She attended many funerals, and she was often present during the preparations of their bodies. Due to the tragedy she endured throughout her life, her mind often went to dark places. In this poem, Dickinson uses rather solemn prose to depict the misery that she feels by talking about mourners, a service, a box (or casket), and a bell. The mourners seem to be linked to the sad thoughts shuffling through her head. These thoughts enter and “when they all [are] seated,” the service, or impending doom, can begin (Dickinson 78). The repetition of the words “treading” and “beating” makes the service seem to be similar to the pounding or drumming in your head that you hear when your heart is beating fast out of fear or anxiety. When she says they “lift a Box And creak [it] across [her] Soul,” it is as if she is describing the unbearable, soul-crushing feeling that her sad thoughts are causing her (Dickinson 78). The fourth stanza extends this feeling as she compares her existence on earth to an ear and the heavens to the sound of a bell, while she herself, is cursed with silence. It is as if she is dealing with so much sadness that it has morphed itself into nothing but eerie silence.
Along with the beautifully tragic prose of Dickinson’s writing, she also uses certain stylistic effects to further help the reader understand the emotions behind this poem. For instance, her use of dashes between certain lines of the poem gives the effect of a pause or a dramatic breath. These breaks, or caesuras, give added emotion to her already powerful words. The dash placed at the end of the poem gives the reader the impression that the poem could go on, but she was either out of breath or her thoughts were interrupted by someone, and she never went back to continue them. Dickinson’s view of mortality is a big part of this poem. She focuses heavily on the topic of death in a way that makes her seem depressed yet intrigued by the idea of it. However, while many of her poems focus on the macabre, there are some poems that are a bit less melancholic.
Poem 81 may seem to be less depressing on the surface, but it still has some rather negative undertones, especially concerning women and their role in society. Dickinson begins this poem with, “The Drop that wrestles in the Sea – /forgets her own locality – “ (Dickinson 81). This line comes across as though it is Dickinson referring to herself, and women in general, as a minuscule drop while alluding to men being large, like the sea. By placing herself under the umbrella of something as small as a drop of water, she puts attention towards the women of this time and their small role in society. In Dickinson’s era, women had certain domestic roles in which they were expected to do as they were told, without complaint. Women were to be submissive, and this expectation of women most likely made Dickinson feel as though she was so small that she was lost in the sea of men (Hughes).
In the second stanza, Dickinson goes on to question if being small is all there will ever be for women, and if there is more for them, how much more is there? She uses “she” in this stanza, instead of “I,” making it clear that she is talking about a general and collective “she,” and not just herself. She is including all women in this stanza. Even though she only talks about herself feeling small in the first stanza, it is made clear that she understands that she isn’t the only woman who feels small like she does; she is merely the messenger of the thoughts that most women had in this time period.
Going on to the last stanza, she references a different body of water, the ocean, as being man. “The Ocean – smiles – at her Conceit,” or the man smiles at her pride and the “silly” idea that she wants more. This “smile” doesn’t seem to express something positive. In this context, it almost seems mocking, like man is only smiling because he thinks that her ideas and desire for more are ridiculous dreams. In this time period, it is easy to see how a man would think this way. The last lines, “But she, forgetting Amphitrite – / Pleads – ‘Me?’” show that the possibly mocking smile isn’t digested as such by the narrator (Dickinson 81). It seems like she believes that the smile is inviting or offering support, when it isn’t. She has forgotten Amphitrite, the compliant wife of Poseidon, and that she is small and doesn’t matter. And by asking “me?” she is living in an oblivious bubble. By asking “me?” she has begun to think that women can have more, but because of this time period, it is easy to see that it will only be a dream, and not a reality.
Unlike the previous poems, which focus on things like depression and the roles of women, poem 168 focuses on the general perception of madness. Dickinson starts this poem with the lines: “Much Madness is divinest Sense – / To a discerning Eye – / Much Sense – the starkest Madness – “ (Dickinson 168). She appears to be saying that the majority of those who are considered mad are actually sane, and those who are sane are the ones who are truly crazy. This declaration makes sense, especially when factoring in Dickinson’s life. She has always been fairly outspoken, as seen in a lot of her poetry, so the idea that she feels that she is sane because she is mad (or vice versa), is a fair one (Poetry Foundation). In the next few lines there are undertones that make it clear to the reader that what she says is, without a doubt, correct. She states that if you agree with her earlier statements, then you are sane, but if you feel that what she said may not be true, then “–you’re straightaway dangerous – / And handled with a Chain – “ (Dickinson 168). This definite proclamation helps the reader to understand her thought process and peer into her complex mind.
Something that sticks out in this poem, along with poem 81, is the continual use of dashes. The dashes add breaks or dramatic pauses in her speech and by including these elocution marks, she takes after Walt Whitman and his use of ellipses to break his lines. Throughout these works the dashes add the illusion of slowing down the poem’s delivery. Dickinson wants you to pause for added effect and emotion, and like poem 78, by ending with a dash, it seems like she was interrupted again or maybe had more to say, but just ran out of breath.
By looking at these selected poems by Emily Dickinson, readers are able to look into her mind and see the way that she processed ideas regarding women’s roles, depression, and madness. On the surface, these poems are eloquently written, but underneath, these topics are seen as controversial, especially during the time when they were written. Her perspective on these matters, allowed for her to raise awareness of these subjects, in a subtle way. Even though the full compilation of her works weren’t introduced to the public until the 1950s, the importance of them have grown immensely since then and have made Emily Dickinson one of the most respected and recognizable poets in not just America, but the world.
Ahmadi, Zahra, Tayari, Zohreh. “Thematic Study of Death in Emily Dickinson’s Selected Poems.” Language in India, vol. 14, no. 3, 2014, pp. 130–136. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=94865281&site=eds-live&scope=site.
Dickinson, Emily. Final Harvest: Emily Dickinson’s Poems. Selection and introduction by Thomas H. Johnson. Little, Brown and Company, 1964.
“Emily Dickinson.” Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/emily-dickinson. Accessed 16 July 2019.
Hughes, Gertrude Reif. “Subverting the Cult of Domesticity: Emily Dickinson’s Critique of Women’s Work.” Legacy, vol. 3, no. 1, 1986, pp. 17-28. www.jstor.org/stable/25678952.
Shakespeare + Film: a marvel or a mess? By Kyra Brue Shakespeare and film. Two seemingly different ideas that have been unified, time and time again for decades, as we’ve seen throughout this semester. Does the marriage of them work in an artistic and entertaining…
By Kyra Brue
Stankonia wasn’t a bad album, but it wasn’t my favorite. There were a few songs that I really enjoyed, like “Ms. Jackson,” “B.O.B,” and “?,” but overall it wasn’t their best album in my opinion. This album definitely had a more modern sound to it. They still stuck with their funky, R&B undertones, but there was also a much greater use of technical sounds, similar to ATLiens, in some parts. I also felt that this album is where they sort of began to stray from their original funk sounds. Some of their songs, like “B.O.B,” didn’t even really have funk elements to it. It sounded a lot more techno than their usual stuff. However, songs like, “So Fresh, So Clean,” which I recognize from somewhere (like a commercial or something), had those original funk sounds that made their previous works distinctly theirs.
Something about this album that really caught my attention, was the extra explicitness of their lyrics. Their previous albums weren’t child-friendly or anything, but they seemed a little less crass than this album was. To me, the songs in this album were either more explicit or just more upfront about sex and love than previous albums were. The erotic tones of the album start in the very first part, “Intro,” and they only go on from there. Song like “I’ll Call B4 I Cum,” “Red Velvet,” and (my personal favorite) “Toilet Tisha” were quite vulgar compared to their previous explicit songs.
Apart from sexual themes, the album also had some other themes as well. In “Gasoline Dreams” there is a lot of commentary about the downfall of the American Dream. The lyrics talk about the harsh reality that is life, and how even when you’re doing ok, there are still obstacles that can come and knock you down. This song puts more of a focus on the not so glamorous reality of the American Dream. In some other songs, there are additional references to the struggle that people go through, even when their doing alright.
The interludes in this album were shorter than in previous albums. They also sometimes didn’t really make sense with the songs preceding or following them. In some places, the interludes acted less like parts of a story, and more like random inclusions. The “break!” at the end of each one also made the interludes seem like random pauses in between songs, almost like commercials are for TV shows.
Throughout the album, there weren’t too many obvious southern things in the songs, apart from the naming of places, like spaghetti junction, College Park, etc. However, in “Snappin’ & Trappin’” there is the line, “My Cadillac got that boom, boom in it, listen to it drop.” This line references the car culture of the south. As mentioned in class, cars are very important to southern culture, along with the presence or lack of a subwoofer, which gives the car that “boom” sound. In some other songs there is also some insight into everyday life in the south, like in “Spaghetti Junction.” This song gives listeners visuals of life near the junction that every Atlantean has most likely driven on at least once in their life.
Overall, this album was definitely different from their previous stuff, in one way or another. It seemed like they were changing their sound to accommodate a broader scope of people. Stankonia had some of their original elements that make them Outkast, but a lot of the songs had different sounds than the ones they showcased in previous albums. I think that because it was different from their usual (in some ways), it wasn’t my favorite.
ATLiens Review By Kyra Brue ATLiens sticks with the funk elements that were present in Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. However, along with funk sounds, this album also incorporated extraterrestrial/ alien sounds in many of the songs, giving it an “out-of-this-world” feel. This album, sonically, was very slow and…
By Kyra Brue
Before now, I had heard only a few of Outkast’s songs (mainly the popular ones like Roses, Hey Ya!, etc.) and I really enjoyed them. This album wasn’t my favorite, mainly because it sounded much different than most of the Outkast songs that I had heard before. After listening to the album a couple of times, it sort of began growing on me. My favorite parts of the album were the interludes for the songs. I think I liked them more than some of the songs just because they were easier to understand, and they were interesting and a little comedic at times.
When I listened to the album for the first time, I was in my car, and maybe it was because of the traffic on I-75 or the fact that I just wasn’t super into the music, but I found myself zoning out when the songs were playing. However, the interludes, especially Welcome to Atlanta (interlude), which I will come back to, caught my attention. I found myself more engaged and entertained by the interludes than some of the songs because they not only added to the story that the songs told, but the delivery of the interludes were more attention grabbing.
After listening to the songs a couple more times I found myself singing or humming the chorus, and I paid more attention to the instrumentals. You could hear, through most of the songs, the funk elements that they borrowed from past artists. The idea of funk also tied into some of the lyrics of some of the songs, especially the ones that talked about or mentioned the pimp lifestyle. For example, in songs Ain’t no Thang, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, and others they allude to or mention pimps or something about the lifestyle, and for some reason the funk sound and pimp talk is connected in my mind.
Welcome to Atlanta (interlude) was the first interlude, after the intro, and it acted as an introduction to the city. While Peaches (intro) was a warm introduction to the album, Welcome to Atlanta was an introduction to the actual city of Atlanta. The entire thing was literally taking you on a tour of the important parts of the city. The “pilot” talked about things from the Atlanta sports teams to the Georgia Dome (which was recently destroyed and replaced by the Mercedes Benz Stadium) and the confederate flag that flew on top of it. This interlude also alluded to one of Atlanta’s most important industries, the airport, by including sounds that made it sound like you were on an airplane flying into Atlanta.
Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, lyrically, was interesting to me. The lyrics were like an introduction to the black southern lifestyle. It’s like the lyrics were made, not only for black southerners, but for non-southerners too. The album’s purpose seemed to spread a message or, like I said before, tell a story and give insight to the black south and put them on the map by making them heard.
You could get a strong sense of the south through the distinctly southern accents, which were especially prevalent in the interludes along with the names and places that were heard throughout the album. Places like East Point and Buckhead gave further insight into Atlanta, and if you aren’t from here or have never been here, you might miss those details. The songs showcased “southerness” also through the events that were described during songs or taking place during interludes. The album sort of gave a play by play of a normal day to them in Atlanta.
Musically, most of the songs shared a similar sound throughout, which made the album even more story-like. It’s like each song was connected to the next. The interludes also did this. Not every song sounded the same, but the distinct funk-like sounds were prevalent in pretty much all of the songs, tying them all together.
The Fall of Interpersonal Communication and How to Save it By Kyra Brue Think about the average American high schooler in 2018. They probably have their headphones in to block out the world; their face is glued to their phone Snapchatting, Tweeting, or Instagramming; maybe…