The Emily Dickinson exhibition currently showing at the Morgan Library is a great immersion into the poet’s life and way of interacting with the world. It gives a lot of details about her while also deconstructing a lot of myth floating around her. Besides her poetry, the exhibition explores Dickinson’s early life, education, sentimental stories as well a relation to religion and spirituality.
I really appreciated the set up – a one room exhibition recreating Emily Dickinson’s actual room – with the green walls and flower-printed wall paper. This display made looking at the poet’s belongings, manuscripts and poems way more intense and meaningful.
Moreover, the fact that this exploration of Emily Dikinson’s bedroom – where she eventually ended up cutting herself up from the outside – happens inside a place specifically designed by the architect to let in the light intensify the contrast between the restrained environment of the poet and the vastly of the exterior world.
Another great assets of this exhibition is giving historical context of the period in which Emily Dickinson lived and how the social, economical and political factors might have play a huge role on her writings.
In fact, for political context most of her poems where written during the period of the civil war. Therefore, even if she never openly mentions it in her poems, these conditions surely impacted her, especially on the themes of death, love and immortality, some of the recurrent topics in her poetry.
As for social and economical one, our guide of the exhibition pointed out that Dickinson lived through the period of industrialisation, a time when social classes where redefined and former elite challenged. Emily Dickinson being part of the higher class, might have contributed to her willingness of retiring from society when she was a very social and lively girl growing up.