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Much Madness is divinest Sense

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Nick Hiltner

on 27 March 2013

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Transcript of Much Madness is divinest Sense

By Emily Dickinson Much Madness is divinest Sense MUCH madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
’T is the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur,—you ’re straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain. Much Madness is divinest Sense -
To a discerning Eye -
Much Sense - the starkest Madness -
'Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail -
Assent - and you are sane -
Demur - you're straightway dangerous -
And handle with a Chain - Works Cited "In the Poem of "Much Madness Is Divinest Sense" What Do You Think Is the Poem's Theme?" Yahoo! Answers. Yahoo!, 2006. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. This poem is in iambic randometer.
- ` - ` - ` - `
Much Mad/ness is di/vin/est Sense Slant rhyme
Sense and Madness
Sane and Chain Translation Non-conformity makes the most sense
To people who look closely,
What is considered sense by most -- conformists -- is the worst kind of madness
Like everything, the majority will triumph-
conformity is approved of
hesitate and you're considered insane,
deserving punishment Much Madness is divinest Sense -
To a discerning Eye -
Much Sense - the starkest Madness -
'Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail -
Assent - and you are sane -
Demur - you're straightway dangerous -
And handle with a Chain - Group Analysis
We think that the poem is an attempt at convincing the listener that conformists are the mad people, and the nonconformists are the ones with sense. "Much Madness Is Divinest Sense." Enotes.com. Enotes.com, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013 The date that “Much Madness Is Divinest Sense” was written has been guessed as 1862, but nobody knows for sure because the poem was not published until almost thirty years later, in 1890, after Dickinson’s death. Her poetry was first introduced to the public through the efforts of friends and relatives who discovered her poems, corrected her punctuation, designated titles, and modified some of Dickinson’s meanings so as not to offend her audience. It was more than forty years before her original poems were handed over to the United States Library of Congress, where they were thoroughly examined and Dickinson’s original versions were restored. The only editing that was done for the later publications was to assign location numbers to each full piece as well as to every poem fragment. “Much Madness” was given the number 435.

“Much Madness Is Divinest Sense” was published in Dickinson’s first collection, which was simply called Poems (1890). This poem stands wide open to a variety of interpretations. It can be said to represent her sense of humor, or rebellion, as well as her sense of frustration as an intelligent female living in a world that was dominated by dictatorial males. The poem can also reflect her anger, for although she was described as quiet spoken and demure, Dickinson did not hold back her strongest sentiments when it came to writing them. Read in another view, the poem could be taken to express Dickinson’s fear of literal madness.

The poem is deceptively brief and at first glance appears simple. However, within its eight lines is hidden a universal theme that runs so deep that more than a hundred years later its significance is still fresh, its impact is still sharp, and its expressed emotion is still controversial. This poem is so contemporary that Robert Hass, former United States poet laureate (1995–1997), chose to read “Much Madness Is Divinest Sense” to President and Mrs. Clinton at a celebratory meeting in the White House in 1998. Line by Line Analysis Much Madness is divinest Sense -
To a discerning Eye -
To those who look closely enough, they will see that the non-conformists, labeled "mad" by the majority, have the greatest wisdom. In a world with conformists like a river, the salmon are the ones who really know what they're doing.

Much Sense - the starkest Madness -
'Tis the Majority
The bulk of society is caught up with the need to be approved of that they lose themselves. Emily Dickinson believed this to be the clearest and deepest kind of madness.

In this, as All, prevail -
The majority always gets what they want, even if it is not in their best interest. Emily undoubtedly was getting tired of all the mistakes society made as a whole; this might have contributed to her withdrawing from the world.

Assent - and you are sane -
In order to get the approval society grovels for, they need to conform to the majority. Sane, as being defined by larger half of the population, is a complicated standard that must be met to keep the peace.

Demur - you're straightway dangerous -
If you stray from the majority's needs, or even just hesitate, you need to be controlled. Danger, to them, is any nonconformist.

And handle with a Chain -
Any dangerous fire needs to be put out as soon as possible, no matter how much force is used. Ethics, like sanity, are defined by the majority, and with the power that comes with being part of the larger portion, they can enforce whatever they deem necessary. TheFreeDictionary.com defines madness as "The quality or condition of being insane". To be insane you cannot be normal, and to be normal you will have to be similar to the majority. That is the reason I disagree with the poem. "Madness" TheFreeDictionary.com. Farlax,inc. 2013. Web. 25 Mar. 2013. "Much Madness Is Divinest Sense" is said to have been written around 1862. But no one knows the exact date it was made because it wasn't published untill 1890.
After Emily's death, her friends and family revised her opems by giving them titles and changing some of the meanings so they wouldn't be so offensive. They then introduced the poems to the public. Discussion Questions
What is the theme of the poem?
What is nonconformity?
According to Emily Dickinson, who makes the most sense in the world?
Do you agree with Emily Dickinson's view of society? Much Madness is divinest Sense - A
To a discerning Eye - B
Much Sense - the starkest Madness - A
'Tis the Majority B
In this, as All, prevail - C
Assent - and you are sane - D
Demur - you're straightway dangerous - E
And handle with a Chain - D I think Emily Dickinson's view on conformity can be correct to some extent but only occasionally. It is usually beneficial in most ways to be one of the majority. Personally, I see most die-hard nonconformists as people who just have a need to rebel, even if it's neither the wisest or morally correct action to take.
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