Some Keep The Sabbath Going To Church Analysis

Some Keep The Sabbath Going To Church Analysis: In her poem, “Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church,” Emily Dickinson employs a compare and contrast structure and pastoral diction to exemplify how religion is more than just going to church on Sundays, and that true spiritual growth occurs outside the walls of the very institution meant to do so.

This is similar to a major theme in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, where Mark Twain satirizes the way Christianity was practiced in 19th century Mississippi churches.

Dickinson primarily utilizes the compare and contrast structure to separate herself from the average “church-goer” and exemplify the problems in traditional church attendance.

Already, in the first few lines, Dickinson establishes the difference between her and other religious practitioners as she writes, “Some keep the Sabbath going to Church/I keep it, staying at Home” (Dickinson 1-2).

By separating the two lines, Emily Dickinson further separates the two different forms of worship, condescending the others through her negative connotation applied to the word “some.” She continues this structure in the second stanza as she writes, “Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice/I, just wear my Wings” (Dickinson 5-6).

The parallelism of the two stanzas continues to detach Dickinson from other church-goers, maintaining differences in every aspect of worship – in dress, in location, in song, etc. Her alliteration of the “s” here serves to elevate the church-goers practice to a prideful, superficial level by accentuating their attire, in contrast to the simplicity of her Wings, capitalized to imply angelic importance without showiness.

This reflects the required attire for the church in Mark Twain’s books - the Sunday best meant more for others attending than for God and worshipful purposes.

The wings also introduce the reader to her pastoral imagery and diction of nature, whilst contrasting with the “civilized” institution of religion with the natural chapel she has created for herself.

Dickinson employs this pastoral diction in her poem to convey that true spiritual and moral growth occurs in nature, not just outside of a church.

Some Keep The Sabbath Going To Church Analysis

One of the main references Dickinson makes to nature is that of a bird, biblically a symbol of peace, freedom, deity itself, or care. Instead of using a biblically more common dove as her bird of choice, however, Dickinson uses a “Bobolink for a Chorister” (Dickinson 3).

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a Bobolink is a North American bird that seems to wear a “tuxedo backwards” (Cornell 1), which is the opposite pattern of most North American birds, reflecting the polar views Dickinson describes about participating in religion, when compared to the average 19th century Christian in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. Dickinson also describes an orchard as her chapel.

This pastoral diction exemplifies that her worship took place outdoors, and that she was able to connect with God better outside of the confining walls of organized religion, similar to Huck Finn finally making his first moral decisions when he was out on the Mississippi River, away from the traditions and practices of church. She continues, “God preaches, a noted Clergyman –/And the sermon is never long” (Dickinson 9-10).

The idea of removing all the steps between herself and God, like the preacher, implies that conventional practices are more of conventional restraints on her moral growth. Walls, ceilings, preachers, choristers – all are hindering blocks to Emily Dickinson when it comes to religion, serving to separate her further from God than bring her closer.

Rough Rough Rough Conclusion: As her final lines, she writes, “So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –/I’m going, all along.” (Dickinson 12). Her tone criticizes those that don’t practice religion outside of attending church on Sundays.
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