Much Madness Is Divinest Sense Essay

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MacDonald is an instructor of English Literature and media studies. In this essay, MacDonald considers Emily Dickinson's poem in terms of the historical context of the period as well as the notion of the individual versus the majority.

A woman who experienced a difficult relationship with the outside world, Emily Dickinson wrote countless poems on the themes of madness, religion, and marginalization. "Much Madness Is Divinest Sense" is one of the more disturbing among these because of the dark imagery of confinement and fear found within the short eight-line poem.

The poem begins: "Much Madness is divinest Sense— / To a discerning Eye—" indicating not only that madness itself is the subject of this poem but that Dickinson sees a divide between what society accepts as "common sense" and what social norm dictates as a stigmatized label (madness). Indeed, transcendentalists of the period (for example, Henry David Thoreau and...

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This section contains 1,667 words
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Buy the Much Madness Is Divinest Sense Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Much Madness Is Divinest Sense from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.