Greg – As I was reading Antigone, I noticed several similar themes and motifs between Antigone and the work of the poet Emily Dickinson.
Both Antigone and Emily Dickinson were women who countered their cultural traditions by not taking a husband. Their voices were dismissed because they were regarded as insane because they did not fall into usual gender roles. Both had an interesting relationship with death; it pervaded all of their thoughts and work.
In “Because I could not stop for Death-” by Dickinson, the narrator of the poem is courted by death and eventually taken as his bride.
Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
5 We slowly drove—He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility—
We passed the School, where Children strove
10 At Recess—in the Ring
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain—
We passed the Setting Sun—
Or rather—He passed Us—
The Dews drew quivering and chill—
15 For only Gossamer, my Gown—
My Tippet—only Tulle—
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground—
The Roof was scarcely visible—
20 The Cornice—in the Ground—
Since then—’tis Centuries—and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity—
Emily Dickinson 1890
In “Antigone,” the title character is obsessed with death and ultimately is taken as Death’s bride.
“No wedding day can be
Mine, no hymn will be raised to honour
Marriage of mine; for I
Go to espouse the bridegroom, Death.”
“He wins his bride, and shows to all mankind
That folly is the worst of human evils”
I believe Emily Dickinson was trying to remodel the work of “Antigone” when she wrote her poetry. Her use of this classic drama puts an interesting light onto her work. Was she making a comment on 19th century America? Did she view the culture and politics as rebellious? Did she feel oppressed as a woman in her society?