Suppose Jonathan Edwards had been born a woman; suppose William James, for that matter, had been born a woman? (The invalid seclusion of his sister Alice is suggestive.) Even from men, New England took its psychic toll; many of its geniuses seemed peculiar in one way or another, particularly along the lines of social intercourse. Hawthorne, until he married, took his meals in his bedroom, apart from the family. Thoreau insisted on the values both of solitude and of geographical restriction, boasting that “I have travelled much in Concord.” Emily Dickinson—viewed by her bemused contemporary Thomas Higginson as “partially cracked,” by the 20th century as fey or pathological—has increasingly struck me as a practical woman, exercising her gift as she had to, making choices. I have come to imagine her as somehow too strong for her environment, a figure of powerful will, not at all frail or breathless, someone whose personal dimensions would be felt in a household. She was her father’s favorite daughter though she professed being afraid of him. Her sister dedicated herself to the everyday domestic labors which would free Dickinson to write. (Dickinson herself baked the bread, made jellies and gingerbread, nursed her mother through a long illness, was a skilled horticulturalist who grew pomegranates, calla-lilies, and other exotica in her New England greenhouse.)
In the past, women had dreams of feeling free or being successful. Yet they never fulfilled their fantasies due to their inferiority to men. However, by helping one another and teaching them to feel alive, women could overcome all obstacles no matter what the given situation is. Women have conquered their subordinate status. They no longer need to feel degraded or mirthless because of men. Whether it be physical or emotional labor, woman could defeat their laborious dilemmas. In conclusion, despite the odds women can overcome all obstacles.
“Matty: here’s freedom,” I hear her saying as I speed back to Boston along Route 91, as I slip the turnpike ticket into the toll-collector’s hand. I am thinking of a confined space in which the genius of the 19th-century female mind in America moved, inventing a language more varied, more compressed, more dense with implications, more complex of syntax, than any American poetic language to date; in the trail of the genius my mind has been moving, and with its language and images my mind still has to reckon, as the mind of a woman poet in America today.
Now this is extremely strange. It is a fact, that in 1864, Emily Dickinson wrote this verse; and it is a verse which a hundred or more 19th-century versifiers could have written. In its undistinguished language, as in its conventional sentiment, it is remarkably untypical of the poet. Had she chosen to write many poems like this one we would have no “problem” of non-publication, of editing, of estimating the poet at her true worth. Certainly the sentiment—a contented and unambiguous altruism—is one which even today might in some quarters be accepted as fitting from a female versifier—a kind of Girl Scout prayer. But we are talking about the woman who wrote:
Much energy has been invested in trying to identify a concrete, flesh-and-blood male lover whom Dickinson is supposed to have renounced, and to the loss of whom can be traced the secret of her seclusion and the vein of much of her poetry. But the real question, given that the art of poetry is an art of transformation, is how this woman’s mind and imagination may have used the masculine element in the world at large, or those elements personified as masculine—including the men she knew; how her relationship to this reveals itself in her images and language. In a patriarchal culture, specifically the Judeo-Christian, quasi-Puritan culture of 19th-century New England in which Dickinson grew up, still inflamed with religious revivals, and where the sermon was still an active, if perishing, literary form, the equation of divinity with maleness was so fundamental that it is hardly surprising to find Dickinson, like many an early mystic, blurring erotic with religious experience and imagery. The poem I just read has intimations both of seduction and rape merged with the intense force of a religious experience. But are these metaphors for each other, or for something more intrinsic to Dickinson? Here is another:
Dickinson’s biographer and editor Thomas Johnson has said that she often felt herself possessed by a demonic force, particularly in the years 1861 and 1862 when she was writing at the height of her drive. There are many poems besides “He put the Belt around my Life” which could be read as poems of possession by the daemon—poems which can also be, and have been, read, as poems of possession by the deity, or by a human lover. I suggest that a woman’s poetry about her relationship to her daemon—her own active, creative power—has in patriarchal culture used the language of heterosexual love or patriarchal theology. Ted Hughes tells us that
To conclude, two clichés are to be avoided apropos of the hysterical nature of feminine subjectivity:
-on the one hand, the dismissive treatment of the (feminine) hysterical subject as a confused babbler unable to confront reality, and therefore taking refuge in impotent theatrical gestures (an example from the domain of political discourse: from Lenin onwards, Bolsheviks regularly stigmatized their liberal political opponents as hysterics who "do not know what they effectively want");
-on the other hand, the false elevation of hysteria to a protest, through woman's body language, against male domination: by means of hysterical symptoms, the (feminine) subject signals her refusal to act as the empty screen or medium for the male monologue.
Hysteria has to be comprehended in the complexity of its strategy as a radically ambiguous protest against Master's interpolation which simultaneously bears witness to the fact that the hysterical subject needs a Master, that she cannot do without a Master, so that there is no simple and direct way out.
This seems to me to miss the point on a grand scale. There are facts we need to look at. First, Emily Dickinson did not marry. And her non-marrying was neither a pathological retreat as John Cody sees it, nor probably even a conscious decision; it was a fact in her life as in her contemporary Christina Rosetti’s; both women had more primary needs. Second: unlike Rosetti, Dickinson did not become a religiously dedicated woman; she was heretical, heterodox, in her religious opinions, and stayed away from church and dogma. What, in fact, did she allow to “put the Belt around her Life”—what did wholly occupy her mature years and possess her? For “Whom” did she decline the invitations of other lives? The writing of poetry. Nearly two thousand poems. Three hundred and sixty-six poems in the year of her fullest power. What it was like to be writing poetry you knew (and I am sure she did know) was of a class by itself—to be fuelled by the energy it took first to confront, then to condense that range of psychic experience into that language; then to copy out the poems and lay them in a trunk, or send a few here and there to friends or relatives as occasional verse or as gestures of confidence? I am sure she knew who she was, as she indicates in this poem:
A man stupidly believes that, beyond his symbolic title, there is deep in himself some substantial content, some hidden treasure which makes him worthy of love, whereas a woman knows that there is nothing beneath the mask-her strategy is precisely to preserve this 'nothing' of her freedom, out of reach of man's possessive love...
A recent English publicity spot for a beer renders perfectly what Lacan aims at with his notion that "...
India was fighting a battle for freedom as a country. Therefore, the women of India were already behind in their fight for freedom compared to British women. British women simply used the power of the press in there fight, but Indian woman had to come up with other ways to fight for rights. Indian women joined and fought through their own feminist movement, while trying to get through the colonization of India.  It was assumed because Great Britain was never colonized that the people and the women there were already advanced. Therefore, it was not as difficult for the woman of a country that did the colonizing to begin a feminist movement. The author of the book Burden’s of History points out that in the Indian woman feminist movement because they were fighting for colonization, they did not challenge
Dickinson is the American poet whose work consisted in exploring states of psychic extremity. For a long time, as we have seen, this fact was obscured by the kinds of selections made from her work by timid if well-meaning editors. In fact, Dickinson was a great psychologist; and like every great psychologist, she began with the material she had at hand: herself. She had to possess the courage to enter, through language, states which most people deny or veil with silence.