Turn to Poem 508 'I'm ceded – I've stopped being Theirs-'(Emily Dickinson). How far and in what ways does the narrator give a sense of personal growth in the poem?

Essay by jshumanHigh School, 11th gradeA+, June 2008

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The theme of Poem 508 ‘I’m ceded – I’ve stopped being Theirs-’ is the exploration of the narrator’s growth from childhood to adulthood, through the development of spiritual consciousness.

The reader is immediately made aware that the narrator has undergone a dramatic change. With the use of the word ‘ceded’, there is the sense that something has been given away. It is usually territory that is the object of this verb and so its unusual application to a person captures the reader’s attention. Furthermore, it is punctuated by Dickinson’s familiar dash which isolates and emphasises it as if it were followed by an exclamation mark. This expression appears to be an exclamation of relief to be freed from the obligations of the expectations of her parents and this interpretation is supported by her statement ‘-I’ve stopped being Theirs-’. This is a strong, almost defiant statement, which seems to be a declaration of liberation and individual existence and identity.

The forced caesura created by the use of dashes on either side of the statement indicates a rupture. The use of ‘ceded’ makes it sound as if it is not a person who is being discussed and the sense of the impersonal is further developed in the way that Dickinson refers to ‘The name’. The narrator is not taking ownership of the name and emphasises this with ‘is finished using now’, implying it was temporarily borrowed. Similarly, the narrator does not take ownership of the spirituality of the Baptism ‘They dropped upon my face’. The narrator does not regard it as holy, thereby rejecting the sense of divinity. The narrator’s childhood is finished ‘And They can put it with my Dolls,’. In this phase of life she has no use for the toys. Equally she has no use for ‘The name’. It...