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What characteristics of Emily Dickinson's poems are consistent with the genre of realism?

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sharrons | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted June 28, 2012 at 2:14 AM via web

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What characteristics of Emily Dickinson's poems are consistent with the genre of realism?

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted June 28, 2012 at 3:29 AM (Answer #1)

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Realism as an artistic form seeks to depict life as it actually--realistically--appears, rather than create an idealized version found in writers and painters of the Romantic style. In the United States, realism was a literary form flourished in the 1800's with writers such as Thoreau.  In looking more closely at the poem titled "Hope is the thing with feathers", we see Dickinson immediately open with a metaphor based on an element of nature: ' "Hope" is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul/And sings the tune without the words/And never stops at all.'  Although this metaphor creates imagery for the reader--the idea of the perched bird singing--it is not particularly imaginative, i.e. there are no flowery descriptions of colors or sounds.  She extends the metaphor in the second stanza, when she compares life's difficulties to storms that might threaten the little bird.  Again, the metaphor is effective but not overdone. 

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