Emily Dickinson- Known for her unusual life of self-imposed seclusion, Emily Dickinson wrote poetry of power. She was one of the greatest poets of America. Born on 10 December, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts, Dickinson’s poetry was heavily influenced by the Metaphysical poets of seventeenth-century England, as well as her reading of the Book of Revelation and her upbringing in a Puritan New England town, which encouraged a Calvinist, orthodox, and conservative approach to Christianity.
Setting of The Soul selects her own Society-
One could read Emily Dickinson’s poem with no sense of the time she belonged to and yet find it relevant to the present times. She lived a life of self-imposed seclusion. Her mind was her world and that is exactly where the poem is set. The context is herself and the milieu of her mind. Her imaginations and thoughts bear the fruit of her verses.
Poetic Devices in The Soul selects her own Society-
Line 1: “The soul selects her own society” – It gives a whispering, hushed tone to the poem.
Line 12: “Like stone”
Line 1: “Soul” – Speaks of soul as an individual throughout the poem.
Line 3: “divine Majority” – God and the religious community.
Line 9: “ample nation” – the accepted reality of her consciousness.
Line 11: “valves of her attention” – Mind- the states of conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious.
Line 12: “Like stone” – the finality which shall remain essentially unaltered till the end.
Line 5 & 7: “Unmoved”
The Soul selects her own Society — (A)
Then — shuts the Door — (B)
To her divine Majority — (A)
Present no more — (B)
Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing — (C)
At her low Gate — (D)
Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling (C)
Upon her Mat — (D)
I’ve known her — from an ample nation — (E)
Choose One — (F)
Then — close the Valves of her attention — (E)
Like Stone — (F)
Summary of The Soul selects her own Society-
Though a person is born into a society with no choice to take or leave, ‘the Soul selects her own Society’ and once this selection is made, she ‘shuts the Door’, refusing to admit anyone else. Once a cocoon is built there is no place even for the higher power. Let what so ever happen, the decision remains ‘unmoved’. Neither ‘the chariots’ that pass by her gate nor the ‘Emperor’ kneeling in front of her can influence her to alter her soul’s choice. And from this ‘ample nation’ she created for herself, she chooses her single companion for life. Then she closes ‘the valves of her attention’ to the rest of the world, for no longer she needs company in her little nation.
Critical Analysis of The Soul selects her own Society-
Mind is the factory of thoughts and imaginations which give shape to the character of an individual and through various metaphysical concepts, Dickinson reveals this fact in the poem. An individual willingly creates her own comfort zone inside her inner consciousness and takes the privilege to shut out all those who doesn’t adhere to her thought process, even if it is an emperor or any other higher entity. Apart from her inner circle, she doesn’t acknowledge the presence of any other individual in her life or mind. She makes this decision with an unmoved firmness, which a female soul uses to make her associations and stick with them. The worldly pleasures and powers don’t excite her. Her belief is strong and choice is firm. She knows that at the end she has to choose a single company, but that doesn’t alter her faith in herself and her thought structure. The metaphor of “closing the valves of her attention” in the last stanza is an unusual one: associating it with the heart where the decision of allegiances (or rejections) of others are taken. It shows the determination of the soul in establishing her relationships, and the stubbornness with which she retains her position. There is a strong call for independence of mind and individual existence.
Central Idea of The Soul selects her own Society-
Dickinson puts all her effort to point at an individual’s struggle with God and society. The poem is a rebellion against the subjugation of mind and human identity by religious rules. She deemed God as indifferent to human conditions. The poem focuses on assertion of the self. The choice one makes must be independent of all the obligations to the society and the world as such. It entails to understanding one’s identity and having individual opinions as well as perceptions.
Tone of The Soul selects her own Society-
The poetess uses an affirmative poetic tone in first person. The frequent usage of the first person gives her poems an intimacy and immediacy of the discourse. The mode conveyed is highly subjective and based upon emotional experiences. The emphasis on subjectivity rather than rationality helps the readers to relate to the poem emotionally to a personal level in a quiet, grand and ominous manner. The poem highly questions the authority of religious institutions over an individual’s thought process and asserts the finality of person’s choice. The self and soul are synonymous in the poem.
Conclusion- The mind is the creator of one’s own world and its inhabitants. It is entirely up to the consciousness to make the choice about who shall dwell in its abode. This province is entirely dominated by the rules of one’s thoughts rather than the ones set by the society. No emperor, no god and no human being have any say in this empire of mind. And once the decision is made about who shall remain and who shall be shunned, it becomes the ultimatum, a choice with no possibility of adulteration. The mind recreates a sense of the world as a place where an individual shall not be ruled by some set notion and objectified under the whims of other people’s imagination. The freedom of mind and expression are the key elements of one’s existence and no entity in this world should think it any power do the otherwise.