Nudity, power, beauty, paradise, knowledge, authority, rebellion, anger, punishment,and injustice: these are all themes that Emily Dickinson.s poetry grapples with and repeatedlyexplores. They are also themes that she found in the Genesis narrative of Adam and Eve inher King James Version of the Bible.
As a central influence in Dickinson.s Nineteenth Century, Puritan, New Englandsociety, the Bible was a primary text at both Amherst Academy and Mount Holyoke, whereDickinson attended (Sewell 362). At home, Dickinson.s father read a chapter a day to hisfamily (Sewell 694), and at age 14, he gave her a copy of the King James text (Seelbinder 18).
Everyone in her life encouraged Emily Dickinson to study the Bible, hoping it would bring herclose to God and would convince her to join the church. In Dickinson.s hands, however, theBible had the opposite effect.At age sixteen, Emily Dickinson wrote a letter to her friend Abiah Root, whichcontained the following passage:I have lately come to the conclusion that I am Eve, alias Mrs. Adam. Youknow there is no account of her death in the Bible, and why am not I Eve? Ifyou find any statements which you think likely to prove the truth of the case, Iwish you would send them to me without delay. (L9)Why would Emily Dickinson choose to call herself Eve, the woman responsible for original sinand the fall of humankind? Dickinson.s intimate knowledge of the Bible did lead her toidentify with Eve. Through this identification, Emily Dickinson found a way to make theBible work for her: it pushed her further away from God and from the beliefs of the Puritanchurch. Dickinson.s poetry illustrates her identification with Eve and how this identif…
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