How are Emily Dickinson's and Anne Bradstreet's poetry similar and different?

Quick answer:

Similarities include simple diction and themes, as well as strong imagery. Differences include Dickinson's use of ambiguity, as well as her tendency to use metaphorical language rather than direct description.

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Anne Bradstreet is the simplest and most direct of poets, perhaps even the most prosaic. Her lyrics can often be summed up in a few words: she loves her husband; she is sad that her house has burned down, but material things do not really matter. The message is always an orthodox Puritan one, wholesome and Godly.

Emily Dickinson also uses simple, forceful diction in her poems. There is little complexity in rhyme, meter, or vocabulary. Like Anne Bradstreet, she has perhaps received less academic attention than she is due because her poems do not require a learned exegesis. However, although she is similar to Bradstreet on the surface, there is more complexity in the ideas her poems contain and more ambiguity and mystery in the images.

It is perhaps in her imagery that Dickinson differs most from Bradstreet. Bradstreet tells the reader that her "hope and treasure lies above." However, she would be quite incapable of describing hope as "the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul." Dickinson's images are always stranger, more imaginative, and less clear than Bradstreet's.

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