Critical analysis of Dickinson's "Apparently with no surprise."

Essay by Barnburning_SartyCollege, UndergraduateA, November 2014

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Emily Dickinson's works cover a cornucopia of motifs. Nature, death, and religion are paramount in many selections. All three topics are combined in her poem "Apparently with no surprise" written in 1884. The imagery, language, and form that Dickinson uses in the passage describing the death scene of a flower implicitly reveal her uncertainty in God.

Dickinson illuminates her initial qualms with God in the literal meaning of the poem. Dickinson writes her observations for a procession of natural events. The poem states that a "flower" is "beheaded" by the frost. Two other spectators, the sun and God, witness the beheading. Neither the sun nor god undertakes any action to save or avenge the flower. However, Dickinson writes this all took place "For an approving God" meaning that God purposefully allowed the beheading. Dickinson prefaces the work with the opening line "Apparently with no surprise" this indicates that she expected Gods approval of the gruesome death.

The first line tenders sarcasm to the work meaning that Dickinson posses a disdain for God's approval of the death.

The personification of the natural elements in the work further defines why Dickinson is confused with God. The sun is "unmoved" when the "happy Flower" is beheaded "at its play". Dickinson describes an innocent subject enjoying life that is without cause killed. Dickinson seems confused with the lack accountability the natural elements have. Stating the frost "in accidental power" beheaded the flower, meaning that without intention a life was taken. The sun continues, "to measure off another Day" without holding the frost accountable for the death of the flower. This lack of accountability is then blamed on God.

Dickinson could not reconcile her perception of God as a merciful being with the arbitrary malice she had...