Much Madness Is Divinest Sense Themes

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Madness Versus Sanity

The main, or at least most obvious, theme of this poem deals with the argument over the definition of sanity and its opposite, madness. Sanity is an ambiguous term. It takes on its definition from its surroundings. What is considered sane in one society might be defined as crazy in another. The passage of time also alters the definition.

Dickinson is also correct in pointing out that the majority classifies what is sane and what is not. In any group, rules of conduct are determined by the majority. Deviation from this standard cannot be tolerated if the majority of the group is to "prevail." In some way, those who object must be ostracized or else they will threaten the group's goals. Although the words "sanity" and "madness" have definite meanings recognized by modern readers, in Dickinson's time, these concepts were often used when discussing women's rights...

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This section contains 551 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.