Does "After Great Pain a Formal Feeling Comes" by Emily Dickinson suggest that sorrow can make people see beauty where they did not see it before?  "After Great Pain a Formal Feeling Comes" by...

Does "After Great Pain a Formal Feeling Comes" by Emily Dickinson suggest that sorrow can make people see beauty where they did not see it before?

 

"After Great Pain a Formal Feeling Comes" by Emily Dickinson

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I would say that Dickinson is not necessarily suggesting that sorrow can make people see beauty where they did not see it before in her poem "After great pain a formal feeling comes". Instead, one could justify that the power one has to overcome sorrow lies within them.

Dickinson depicts the great sorrow one faces through the numbing imagery of "freezing persons recollect[ing] the snow." Here, Dickinson is showing how numb one can become when faced with such sorrow as it over takes them. (The imagery here represents that people frozen by sorrow can do nothing but lie still and allow more sorrow to build up upon them.)

At the end of the poem, Dickinson admits that there are times where one needs to feel the freezing affects of sorrow. The only way one can overcome sorrow is to recognize that it is not allowing them to move on with their lives--freezing them in their tracks.

The last line of the poem, "first chill, then stupor, then letting go", shows the movement that people must go through to find peace and beauty. Without experiencing sorrow, one cannot look forward in order to break them free from the frozen state to which they belong.

Therefore, it is not necessarily beauty which one is looking for to save them from sorrow, but the strength one must find from within.

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