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Contextualising Dickinson’s non-heteronormativity in Verse: A Portrayal of otherness

Journal: International Journal of English, Literature and Social Science (Vol.7, No. 4)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 278-281

Keywords : marriage; otherness; homoeroticism; femininity; transcendence;

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The study aims to place in critical perspective Dickinson's non-heteronormative stance, adopted in selected love-poems – To Own a Susan, Title Divine is Mine, Her Breast is fit for Pearls, among others. Her cloistered life dictated by 19th century New England's restrictive culture, together with self-imposed isolation from contemporary society, segregated her considerably. Denying the institution of marriage and consummation, she defies domination by custodians of hegemonic masculinity: such is her unambiguous proclamation of resisting docile divinity, that reduces women to positions of choiceless-ness, material and emotional subjugation. Dickinson's letters reveal an ‘otherness,' antithetical to age-old conceptions of Victorian Femininity. She refused to be contained by phallocentric norms, countering the ‘Angel in the Hearth' stereotype and surpassing compulsory heterosexuality. These possibly never appealed to her psyche, sometimes revealing an extraordinary love for death – ushering in her existentialist crisis. Dickinson's homoeroticism, being a crucial route to navigate a personality as multidimensional, anticipates 20th century Lesbian Existence. While critics examine her feminism, her erotic voice isn't ignorable. Her impassioned, often controversial, partnership with Sue proves a direct subversion of archetypal choices invariably expected of women. The study shall probe into Dickinson's experience and portrayal of lesbian identity within the politics of heterosexual culture. Dickinson's “God” bears close proximity to a patriarch, who may not be violently dominant, but may reckon and revive narratives with the male-female binary unperturbed. The paper explores her treatment of ‘human body' as a metaphor of transcendence from essentialist notions of heterosexual relations, while enquiring into circumstances behind the emergence of alternative gender ideologies and evolving survival strategies in staunchly patriarchal societies

Last modified: 2022-08-30 20:14:57