The analysis of a selection of Emily Dickinson's texts confirms
the notion that suffering occupies the principal position in the
poet's work. Her poetry constitutes an example of a painful
literary quest for subjectivity as well as an act of
self-transcendence, which means that through her writing the poet
obtained conscious control over her personal anguish. By using pain
as a poetic strategy she transformed her private biography into a
literary text. In this way she became a model for coping with
suffering and using it for self-examination and self-development.
In Emily Dickinson's poems suffering creates a new language and a
new outlook on the self and the world. During the investigation of
her poetic texts three dimensions of suffering as a poetic strategy
have been distinguished: suffering as a theme, suffering as a
subversive force affecting the language, and suffering as a form of
poetic expression. The critical tool used for this analysis was the
theory of Julia Kristeva, who emphasises these elements as crucial
in the interpretation of literary texts.
The healing power of Emily Dickinson's poetry lies in her
presenting that suffering also has the positive, empowering side.
By displaying an astounding autonomy and showing an alternative way
of existence the poet demonstrated that fulfilment can be
understood in a very broad sense. Her poetry constitutes evidence
that the creative processes can be used as psychotherapy for both
the creator and the recipient.
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