"In writing at all," Adrienne Rich notes, "women have often felt in danger of losing their status as women" Emily Dickinson knew this fear, and her solution, applied with amazing consistency throughout her poetry, was to consciously withdraw from the exalted station of "womanhood" as she found it defined by church, family, and state. Far from robbing her of an identity, this renunciation allowed her to discover the quality and parameter of her own mind and exempted her from having to pose as what others believed a woman should be.



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