In Emily Dickinson's poem, "Much Madness is divinest Sense", she uses many dashes. What is the purpose of this?
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Dickinson is a poet who is renowned for her use of the dash in her poetry, which serves generally to break up her short verses and also, in the case of poems that end with a dash, create a sense of unfinished thoughts or images that can actually be quite disturbing. Consider the example from this brilliant poem where Dickinson turns her attention to "madness" and deliberately uses a number of terms that are highly ambiguous in society:
In this, as all, prevail--Assent--and you are sane--Demur--you’re straightway dangerous--And handled with a Chain--
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