The Contributions of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson on the 19th Century Literature

Last Updated: 04 May 2023
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Both Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson made significant contributions to the development of English literature in the nineteenth century. Although these two authors lived in relatively similar times, there were a plethora of differences in their lifestyles that shaped the way they wrote about their time. However, there were also aspects of their writing that were similar. Even though these two authors lived different lives in the same period of time, they were able to contribute to much of the literature prevalent in our time. Throughout nineteenth-century America, there were many ways society was divided whether it be through economic status or in this case gender. Gender was one of the most prevalent sources of the division of lifestyles of this time.

This was a time where gender equality wasn’t at the top of society’s priorities and men were very dominant. This gender inequality can be found in the way these two authors expressed themselves in public and in their works of art In their biographies, it states that Whitman was a very sociable man and loved company while Dickinson was quite shy and kept to herself. In their works of literature, Whitman was extravagant with his words and was often careless with repetition and self-contradiction while Dickinson was extremely careful with her words. An example of Dickinson’s precision can be found in The Soul selects her own Society She states, “The Soul selects her own Society- Then- shuts the Door— TO her divine Majority~ Present no more.

It not only showcases her precise use of words but also her reserved way of life. Her passiveness and shyness is also shown in this quote. Along with the variety of differences, there were also similarities between these two influential authors. Due to the fact that these two authors lived during the same time period, it isn’t really surprising that they share some similarities. During this Lime, there was a lot of emphasis put on nature and its beauty. This topic can be found in the works of literature of both Whitman and Dickinson. This can be found in Dickinson‘s If you were coming in the Fall poem and Whitman’s Song of Myself They both express nature in these pieces of literature In this, Whitman states, “The spotted hawk by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.

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This kind of showcases the impact humans may have on nature and how their presence may be harming nature, Humans might be an annoyance to nature at the time because of the rapid industrialization In Dickinson‘s If you were coming in the Fall, she states, “If you were coming in the fall, I’d brush the summer by with half a smile, and half a spurn, as Housewives do, a Fly. This showcases not only some nature aspects of her literature but also provided an insight on what housewives did and how they were in a way dependent on the male role in the family, whether it be a husband or working son They also shared the literature aspect that they were close observers of the lives of people and their daily activities.

Of course, they witnessed this from different perspectives but the observations were relatively similar. It is also interesting to note that they were able to be immersed and observant of the world around them while also keeping their distance and being isolated from the crowds. Although these two authors came from different backgrounds and pursued different lifestyles, one very outgoing and the other very serene and quiet, they were able to contribute to the transformation of literature with their unique ways through their use of diction and syntax.

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The Contributions of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson on the 19th Century Literature. (2023, May 04). Retrieved from

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