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While a single poem of Dickinson's is full of meaning, analyzing the pieces that she placed before it thickens an initial understanding with additional perspective and nuance. To receive a fuller sense of Dickinson's interpretations of her final poem of one of her handbound collections, Fascicle 11, "Over the fence—" we analyze select poems of the eight sheets that proceed it. In nine lines, "Over the fence—" encapsulates the scope of Fascicle 11, depicting the ways in which women are both judged and limited within the social climate of 19th century America and within Christian religious communities. In this fascicle, Dickinson suggests through her speakers that nonconformity, while an honest and exploratory stance, brings with it negative social and religious ramifications. Understanding Dickinson‚Äôs commentary on this theme is fundamental to recognizing Dickinson's fluctuation as a religious believer, to appreciating the subversiveness of her work in context with the conventional literary boundaries of her time, and to learning about the experience of women in 19th century America. This analysis is informed by theories about her "nimble believing," a type of oscillation Dickinson exhibited between euphoric moments of belief and stark moments of disbelief. This argument will follow Dickinson's speaker through the eight sheets of the eleventh fascicle, focusing on images and transitions between poems to better understand the fascicle's main theme. By identifying prevalent themes in the fascicle then comparing them to themes in Dickinson's letters and biographies, we can come to understand the most plausible intended interpretation of "Over the fence—."
Utah State University
English Language and Literature
Louviere, Hala; Forest, Jordan; and Roundy, Talia, ""God Would Certainly Scold!": Understanding Religion, Sex, and Nonconformity Through an Analysis of Dickinson's "Over the fence–" and Surrounding Poems" (2020). Fall Student Research Symposium 2020. 43.