Date of Award

Spring 1963

Document Type



Languages & Literature

First Advisor

Joseph Ward


Deeply rooted within the very nature of man are certain needs, drives, and desires. These cravings have surfaced and expressed themselves in every age and generation since the beginning of time. They have been manifested in various ways--depending upon the location and generation of the people expressing them--but these outcroppings of basic human needs have always contained elements of similarity which revert to the original themes implanted in human nature at its creation.

These needs, drives, and desires which have accompanied man throughout his entire history have been articulated in narrative modes called myths and are most frequently given expression in the literature of a race or people. The medium of expression found in more recent history to be most suitable to the articulation of myth is the metaphysical image.

Since the poet, Emily Dickinson, has been found to be surprisingly adept at the handling of metaphysical forms, this paper proposes to examine her technique in the use of the metaphysical image in its embodying of the myth.

This paper will not deal with all the myths of man, but with four of the basic ones which correspond to the four main categories of Emily Dickinson’s writing.

Thus, this paper will include the myths of man’s relation to God, man’s relation to himself, man’s relation to eternity, and man’s relation to nature. These myths will correspond respectively to the poet's religious poetry, soul-searching poetry, death poetry, and nature poetry.

Although Miss Dickinson also wrote poetry which contained the theme of the dutiful neighbor and the theme of love, this poetry is not integrally related to that of her four main divisions, and so will not be treated in this work.