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Tone in Much Madness Is Divinest Sense

Tone Examples in Much Madness Is Divinest Sense:

Text of the Poem


"discerning..."   (Text of the Poem)

Depending on how the reader interprets the first line, the tone of the poem can turn on this adjective. “Discerning” can be understood to mean having the ability to perceive things clearly, demonstrating good judgment, or simply being able to make distinctions between things.

"—..."   (Text of the Poem)

Despite the many dashes that could signal to the reader a sense of frantic fragmentation, this poem is constructed logically. Unlike other poems in which ellipse and syntax make it hard to parse Dickinson’s thoughts, each idea in this poem corresponds to the end of a line. Dickinson creates this critique of society using strict poetic control that complicates the poem’s biting tone.

"divinest..."   (Text of the Poem)

“Divinest” is a superlative adjective that means “inspired by God” or “surpassing beauty, perfection, excellence, etc.; extraordinarily good or great.” By this line, the speaker claims that “madness” is the best form of sense; so great it seems almost inspired by God. This hyperbolic claim suggests an ironic or biting tone to the poem.

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