Why would Emily Dickinson be called “The woman in white”?

Why would Emily Dickinson be called “The woman in white”?

It has been said that throughout Emily Dickinson earlier adolescent life that she wore different clothing styles and then later on in her adult she had begun to wear the color white and had in fact became obsessed with the color white. During her lifetime many people that knew her described her simply as “The woman in white.”

Today, many scholars have debated over why she had chosen to start wearing white dresses and attire. Some make mention that she was buried in white with a white coffin .While others have even debated over the fact that she had chosen to include the color white in her varies poems throughout her writings. According to the author Wesley King who wrote an article called “The White Symbolic of Emily Dickinson,” Dickinson, uses the word “white” in thirty of her various poems—which included a white bridal grown. King in his article he gives his readers a samples of such poetry, one was call “A solemn thing” It states:
A solemn thing – it was – I said –
A Woman – white – to be –
And wear – if God should count me fit –
Her blameless mystery –
A timid thing – to drop a life
Into the mystic well –
Too plummetless – that it come back –
Eternity – until –
I pondered how the bliss would look –
And would it feel as big –
When I could take it in my hand –
As hovering – seen – through fog –
And then – the size of this “small” life –
The Sages – call it small –
Swelled – like Horizons – in my breast –
And I sneered – softly – “small”!
The author King also included another poem that Emily Dickinson had written in reference to the color of white named, “A Spider sewed at Night” It begins:

A Spider sewed at Night
Without a Light
Opon an Arc of White –
If Ruff it was of Dame
Or Shroud of Gnome
Him Of Immortality
His strategy
Was physiognomy -self himself inform –
The author goes on to state that this poem is moreover a perfect example of a usage of rhyme, three stanzas, with each having three lines, which creates an atypical symmetry.

In comparison, the author J. Brooks Bouson wrote an article called “On Emily Dickinson,” In this article the author Bouson described Emily Dickinson as a nineteenth-century rebellious New Englander who was a nonconformist, eccentric reclusive, and a great original American poet who dressed in white. Bouson concluded that Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) is a popular American “iconic figure” that continues into the twenty-first century. The writer adds that the self- secluded Emily Dickenson wrote in one of her well-known poems referring to herself as “A Woman- white -to be-” in poem 307.
Furthermore, Bouson also mentioned that Emily Dickinson being dressed in white could have been interpreted as symbolic act. Perhaps it represented an abandoned bride’s gown. Or maybe it was a sign of a nunlike seclusion. Or maybe her desire to rise above her body and devote herself wholly to her transcendent when she dies. Many scholars claimed that she started to wear all white apparel after her father had passed away as a means of telling death that she was heaven bound and that deaths grip could no longer hold her back. While other critics have stated that she chose to wear white as a symbol of purity. Often times in many countries women who war all white dresses are virgins that wear white in order to let the community in which they live know that they have never been touched by a man. And these women tend to live with their parents until they are married.

To me with her being a female with her own distinctive individuality and being known for her unique collection of poems about love, death, nature, religion and heartbreak, there could have be a number of reasons why she had chosen to wear the color white. Perhaps maybe she wore the color white, because she just likes the color white. I don’t think the critic and scholars have ever thought of that as being the case.
In addition to this information the author J. Brooks Bouson made references to the fact that Dickinson never had any face-to-face contact with any of her visitors; she only spoke them behind screens or closed doors. I find this tidbit of information very fascinating, since I have read several books and various articles about Emily Dickinson. This is the first article that I had come across that said that she only spoke to people in this manner. WOW!!! If this information is in fact true than she would be considered a schizophrenic in the mental health field. Oftentimes people with schizophrenic may withdraw from the outside world. He or she may act out in confusion and be fearful of others in society.

Many Schizophrenic individuals have a hard time of talking to people in the same room. Many tend to walk around the room while you are trying to talk to them, while others will look at objects instead of looking at you. Some Schizophrenic individuals are very leery of people in general. However, I have met the most talented individuals who suffer from Schizophrenia. Many can sing or play instruments. You can see them perform in the subways or on the streets of Chicago. And most of them are in fact homeless today.

How many of you have seen the movie the Soloist in with Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. The movie is based on a true story about a talented homeless musician who suffered from schizophrenia and he has a hard time dealing with people. You’d have to see the movie for yourself, to see how it turns out.


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