"There's a certain Slant of light"

April 13, 2010
By Megan McPheely SILVER, Duluth, Georgia
Megan McPheely SILVER, Duluth, Georgia
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

“There’s a certain Slant of light” by Emily Dickinson presents this idea of a battle between Satan and the followers of God and uses many interesting writing techniques, such as capitalization, and comma use. The topic of the poem is also surprising to the reader because it is an Emily Dickinson poem.

Emily Dickinson’s poem presents the idea of a battle between Satan and the followers of God, in my opinion. I believe this is the focus of the poem because of certain lines in the poem. In line three of the first stanza, Dickinson mentions how this certain slant of light oppresses. When I think of oppression, many different ideas come to mind; however, when taken with the rest of the poem, I believe she is talking about the oppression of Satan. Satan oppresses the believers into committing sins because he understands when we sin, we take away from God and it is a battle that he has won rather than Him. In line three of the third stanza, Dickinson mentions “an imperial affliction”. This affliction is very powerful and dominant over the ones watching the light. When Satan presents sins to people, the sins entice people and are very dominant. The more dominate, or imperial, a sin is, the more one wants to commit the sin because of its attraction.

The interesting writing techniques used by Dickinson in “There’s a certain Slant of light” are the capitalizations and the comma use. The capitalization is noticed from the very beginning because Dickinson uses interesting capitalization in her title. Normally the title of a poem or other literature work capitalizes every word except for conjunctions, such as: as, the, by, and of. Other interesting capitalizations concern different words throughout the poem. One of these interesting capitalizations is “Cathedral Tunes” in the fourth line of the first stanza. This is interesting because one would normally only capitalize cathedral if he or she is naming a specific cathedral, like the Notre Dame Cathedral. Also, “tunes” is not the name of a cathedral, but rather an unimportant noun. Another interesting capitalization is hurt in the first line of the second stanza. It is interesting to capitalize hurt because hurt is a common noun rather than a proper noun or the name of something specific. The comma usage is also interesting because the commas sometimes break up the sentences and there is an unnecessary pause where some of the commas are placed. One of these is the first line of the second stanza in between hurt and it. This is an interesting comma because the stress of the sentence should be heavenly hurt rather than it gives us and the heavenly hurt is what whatever object is giving the people where the poem is set. Another interesting comma is in the first line of the third stanza between it and any. Normally, one would write this sentence as “None may teach it any” rather than “Non may teach it—Any—“. The comma here abruptly stops the sentence and makes it sound choppier.

This poem is an interesting poem because of the topic of a battle between Satan and the followers of God. This may seem like a normal topic; however, considering the poem is an Emily Dickinson poem is what makes the topic unusual. Emily Dickinson is a poet who tends to focus on death and a poem on another topic is rare. When I read who the poet was, I assumed the poem would have something to do with death because pretty much every Emily Dickinson poem deals with death. Even though the title is “There’s a certain Slant of light”, I assumed this light could be the light one sees when they are fighting between life and death.

“There’s a certain Slant of light” by Emily Dickinson presents the interesting idea of a battle between Satan and the followers of God, uses interesting literary techniques, and has an interesting topic.

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