Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 208
Dickinson’s “After great pain, a formal feeling comes—” (1861) describes the after-effects of profound physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual agony.
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Dickinson’s “To lose one’s faith—surpass,” (1861), like “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,” explores the results of spiritual devastation.
Like the speaker of “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,” the title character of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1601) faces the breakdown of his rational faculties.
Dickinson’s “Much Madness Is Divinest Sense—” (1861) treats the theme of insanity in a much different way than “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain”; here, madness is likened to the spirit of non-conformity.
The American novelist William Styron’s Darkness Visible (1990) is a memoir of his battle with madness, specifically, clinical depression. The book is remarkable for the ways in which Styron depicts his struggle to understand the workings of his own mind.
Robert Burton’s famous psychological treatise The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) examines various states of melancholy, a general term used by Burton to describe different mental illnesses. Burton’s book offers a fascinating glimpse into early psychological scholarship.
T. S. Eliot’s complex poem The Waste Land (1922) extends the various breakdowns experienced by the speaker of Dickinson’s poem to the entire twentieth century.entire twentieth century.