Dickinson exam help

Dickinson.pop Emily Dickinson   Previous exam questions                                                              BCCNSenglish.com 2011 1. “Emily Dickinson’s original approach to poetry results in startling and thought provoking moments in her work.” Give your response to the poetry of Emily Dickinson in the light of this statement. Support your points with suitable reference to the poems on your course. Reward responses that show clear evidence of engagement with “original approach” and “startling and thought-provoking moments” in the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Code OA for original approach.  Code ST for startling/thought-provoking moments. Material might be drawn from the following: – condensed ideas with shocking/intriguing possibilities – dramatic moments of stark consciousness – unusual visual and aural aspects startle/perplex/amaze – unconventional punctuation, fragmented rhythm and cryptic imagery – moments of celebration/euphoria and anguish/nothingness (from Examiner’s Guidelines 2011) _________________________________________________________________________________ 2005   What impact did the poetry of Emily Dickinson make on you as a reader? Your answer should deal with the following: –          Your overall sense of the personality of the poet –          The poet’s use of language/imagery –          Refer to the poems by Emily Dickinson that you have studied.   Candidates may focus on different types of impact – the visual, emotional, intellectual, personal, aesthetic, and so on. Note the instruction (‘should’) to candidates to deal with each of the stated aspects of the poet and her work. Expect treatment, though not necessarily equal, of both aspects. Code PD for ‘personality of Dickinson’ and LD for ‘language/imagery’. Evidence of genuine engagement with the poetry should be rewarded. Material may be drawn from the following: – her individualistic vision of life – exploration of a private, inner self – variety of moods/atmosphere – uniqueness of her language, imagery – sees reality and abstract things in a new way (from Examiner’s Guidelines2005) ______________________________________________________________________________

As you can see from the marking schemes for previous questions, it is acceptable to use a range of different points to construct paragraphs in your answer – depending on the question asked. However, it is crucial that you know the following main points about Plath.  It is also essential that you are able to refer to the poem(s) and the quotes that prove these particular points.

Below are only some of the quotes you could use. You do not need to know every quote – just enough relevant quotations for each point/paragraph. You can then use some of these points as paragraphs in your poetry answer. Again, it depends on the question asked (look carefully at the wording.)


Emily Dickinson                                          Key Points and Quotations


Concise, condensed, fresh, original, unique, challenging


Innovative Punctuation

En dash

‘First – Chill – then – Stupor – Then the letting go –‘ (AGP,AFFC)

‘Random’ Capitalisation

‘Funeral’, ‘Brain’, ‘Mourners’, ‘Sense’

‘Plank’ ‘Reason’, ‘World’, ‘Finished’ (IFAF, IMB)


Oppressive, Atmospheric

‘…treading – treading –‘ ‘…beating – beating –‘(IFAFIMB)






‘A spotted shaft is seen –‘ (ANFITG)


Unconventional Rhyming Metre

‘Yet, never, in Extremity / it asked a crumb – of Me’ (HITTFF)


Unusual, complex, ambigious, disturbing, fascinating, methaphoical

Dark disturbing

‘And Zero at the Bone’ (ANFITG)


Oppressive, ominous

‘This is the Hour of Lead’ (AGPAFFC)


Strange Bizarre

‘And Being, but an Ear’ (IFAFIMB)


Occasionally uplifting

“’Hope’ is the thing with feathers – That perches in the soul –“



‘..the chillest land – …the strangest Sea’ (HITTWF)


Simple but powerful similes

‘A Quartz contentment, like a stone –‘ (AGPAFFC)


Variety of Moods/Atmosphere

Hopeful, optimistic

‘the little Bird/That Kept so many warm – ‘ (HITTWF)


‘I Felt a funeral, in my Brain’



‘The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs’

Deeply Personal Style

Exploration of private inner self

‘I felt…I thought…I heard…I dropped’ (IFAFIMB)


Exposes own troubled life

‘Chillest land’  ‘strangest Sea’ (HITTWF)




Unique viewpoint on universal themes



‘…perches in the soul – ‘

Always there  ‘I’ve heard it in the chillest land’


Mental Breakdown

Mental deterioration

‘My Mind was going numb –  (IFAFIMB)

Breaking point

‘And then a Plank in Reason, broke,/And I dropped down, and down –‘



Aftermath of loss

‘After a great pain, a formal feeling comes’

‘Stiff Heart questions…’ (AGPAFFC)


Morality/ temptation?

The devil?    ‘Fellow’

Temptation?   ‘Whip lash’

Sudden appearance   ‘His notice sudden is’

Reaction   ‘A tighter breathing/And Zero at the Bone’



 English@Banagher College


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s