• Annotated Full Text
  • Literary Period: Realism
  • Publication Date: 1890
  • Flesch-Kincaid Level: 4
  • Approx. Reading Time: < 1 minute
Poetry

Much Madness Is Divinest Sense

“Much Madness is Divinest Sense” coherently builds an argument that madness and sense are the same thing. If one conforms to the majority’s “sense,” they are seen as sane, and if they defy this conformity they are seen as “mad” and consequently punished. Dickinson wrote this poem in 1863 when she was 33 years old. By this time in her life, Dickinson had mostly excused herself from society. She was seen as an outsider, maybe even a dangerous other, by her small-town’s strict, conservative Christian society. This poem has been read as a the poet’s reaction to negative perceptions of her peculiar nature. Written in what was later referred to as her “Watershed Period,” this poem boldly defies conventions and aesthetics of her time to create the unique voice that has come to make her famous. As Dickinson herself put it to a dear friend, “pardon my sanity in a world insane.”

  • Annotated Full Text
  • Literary Period: Realism
  • Publication Date: 1890
  • Flesch-Kincaid Level: 4
  • Approx. Reading Time: < 1 minute