What is the theme of "I Am Nobody Who Are You" by Emily Dickinson?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one of the themes in this poem is the belief that the powerless do have power.  The opening stanza does clearly identify that the speaker is an individual that is not within the interior of power circles, but rather is on the periphery.  Yet, rather than looking at this as a potential deficit, the speaker immediately seeks a position of power by asking the other person to join them.  This helps to bring out a sense of collectivity out of marginalization.  The second stanza continues this in its indictment of those who are at the center of discourse.  It is almost a Hegelian variation on the master/ slave dialectic, suggesting that those who are socially accepted might not he as free as one would believe.  The theme seems to be asserting that there is a level of power within those who are deemed powerless and those who have power might not be as free as one might think.

coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the poem "I am nobody, who are you?" Emily Dickinson takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the idea of collective voice versus minority voice. Her tone is cheeky and confident in the sense that she is a little assertive. She discusses the themes of anonymity and the freedom and independence that brings as against the babble and inconsequential patter of the collective voice. her voice as she addresses the "you" in the poem is direct and refreshingly honest, like that of a curious unself-conscious child. She places great emphasis on individuality and personal identity, and less on the desire of some humans to act like sheep - or frogs! - in herd-like fashion. She seems to think that courage is required in order to be a true individual.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To me, the theme of this poem is that it is easier and better to be a nobody than to be somebody.  That is, it is easier to live when you do not really care whether people know your name or what they think about you.

When you are well known (whether in the world or just in your school) everybody pays attention to what you are doing.  So you have to act all the time in ways that will make you look good and will make people continue to think you are important.

When you are an outsider or a nobody, you are free to act as you wish -- to be yourself.

jotialam14 | Student

As per me I think the poem say's that Man is mortal.He has to die some day.& after his death he is nobody for this world.A person can't self praise himself. Even if he does he is not praised after his death in this world.Every person has to be lost in this nature someday.Nobody or nothing is immortal in this world....