This effective, short poem addresses the way that women were treated in Dickinson’s contemporary society and how their entire lives were focused on their husbands. Once married, ‘She rose to His Requirement – dropt’ alludes that a woman was expected to set aside her own emotions and needs to focus on her husband.
She rose to His Requirement—dropt Emily DickinsonShe rose to His Requirement—droptThe Playthings of Her LifeTo take the honorable WorkOf Woman, and of Wife—If ought She missed in Her new Day,Of Amplitude, or Awe—Or first Prospective—Or the GoldIn using, wear away,It lay unmentioned—as the SeaDevelop Pearl, and Weed,But only to Himself—be knownThe Fathoms they abide—
Explore She rose to His Requirement—dropt
‘She rose to His Requirement – dropt’ by Emily Dickinson is a powerful, short poem about marriage and a woman’s role in contemporary society.
The poem begins with the speaker using sarcasm to emphasize the changes that come over a woman’s life when married. She has to put all of her personal goals and dreams to the side to focus on her husband’s wants and needs entirely. Her emotions stay deep within her, like a pearl on the ocean floor.
Throughout this poem, Dickinson engages with the themes of a woman’s role in society and marriage. The poet uses sarcasm to emphasize how unfair a woman’s lack of identity is within marriage during Dickinson’s contemporary time. After a woman gets married, there’s no more time for her personal beliefs, goals, desires, or even emotions.
Structure and Form
‘She rose to His Requirement – dropt’ by Emily Dickinson is a three-stanza poem divided into sets of four lines, known as quatrains. These quatrains follow a rhyme scheme of ABCB, with a few examples of half-rhyme.
The poet also chose alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter. This means that the odd-numbered lines contain eight syllables which can be divided into four sets of two. Within these sets, the first syllable is stressed, and the second is unstressed. The even-numbered lines, where the poet uses iambic trimeter, follow the same syllable arrangement but contain six syllables. The rhyme scheme and the meter conform the text to the standards of a ballad or hymn.
Throughout this poem, the poet makes use of several literary devices. These include but are limited to:
- Alliteration: the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of multiple words. For example, “Woman” and “Wife” in line four of the first stanza and “rose” and “Requirement” in line one of stanza one.
- Sarcasm: Dickinson uses sarcasm to describe the truth of a woman’s oppressive day tp day existence in marriage.
- Simile: a comparison between two things that uses “like” or “as.” For example, the poet compares a woman’s deep, inner emotions to a pearl in the ocean’s depths.
- Caesura: a division in the middle, or in any spot, within a line of poetry. For example, “But only to Himself—be known.”
- Enjambment: occurs when the poet cuts off a line before its natural stopping point. For example, the transition between lines two and three of the first stanza.
She rose to His Requirement—dropt
The Playthings of Her Life
To take the honorable Work
Of Woman, and of Wife—
In the first stanza of the poem, Dickinson’s speaker, who is often considered to be the poet herself, begins by describing what happens after a woman gets married. She drops the playthings of her life or her own personal interests and takes on the work of being a “wife.”
By using the word “Playthings,” Dickinson emphasizes the patriarchal perspective of women’s lives that was rife throughout her lifetime and is still present in countries around the world. A woman’s interests are frivolous and unworthy of pursuit, and after she’s married, she becomes a real woman, this perspective asserts.
If ought She missed in Her new Day,
Of Amplitude, or Awe—
Or first Prospective—Or the Gold
In using, wear away,
In the second stanza, the speaker analyzes how in her new life, the woman cannot discuss the elements of her old life that she misses. Dickinson uses the word “amplitude” to emphasize the incredibly drastic change that this woman has undergone. Her life is filled with new responsibilities and new restrictions.
When Dickinson speaks about the “gold” in the second stanza, she’s alluding to how a young woman’s dreams erode as she ages and is faced with the truth of how women are treated in the poet’s contemporary society.
It lay unmentioned—as the Sea
Develop Pearl, and Weed,
But only to Himself—be known
The Fathoms they abide—
In the third and final quatrain, the speaker brings an image of the sea into the poem. She compares the woman’s sadness, disappointment, and oppression to how a developing pearl is hidden beneath the sea. She keeps her emotions to herself. The sea obscures her truth as it does a pearl.
What lies in her heart, or her “Fathoms,” is known only to her. There is something full about this image, but, at the same time, it represents a troubling and dark view of the treatment of women in 19th century America. The poem began speaking about how the woman was forced to rise to “His requirement.” It ends with a discussion of great depths or the deep fathoms of the ocean.
The message is that women in Emily Dickinson’s contemporary world were forced to sacrifice their goals, dreams, individual emotions, and entire personalities when married. They said aside their “Playthings” and became a woman and a wife.
Dickinson wrote this poem to shed light on the way that women are treated and how their dreams and desires are discarded. The poem reflects on the overall patriarchy of the time.
The tone is soft, sarcastic, and sometimes gloomy. It is easy to interpret Dickinson’s use of sarcasm, particularly within the first few lines. She speaks about the process of becoming a wife as something that defines women, often against their will.
The third-person speaker is often considered to be Emily Dickinson herself. She may be expressing her opinion about the stereotypical roles that women play in day-to-day life and how, after becoming a wife, a woman’s life revolved around the man she was married to.
‘She rose to His Requirement – dropt‘ is a ballad. It is divided into quatrains that follow a rhyme scheme of ABCB. The poem also uses alternating lines of iambic trimeter and iambic tetrameter.
Readers who enjoyed this poem should also consider reading some other Emily Dickinson poems. For example:
- ‘A Murmur in the Trees— to note’ – is a poem about nature’s magic. It includes mysterious images of fairy men, glowing lights in the woods, and the murmuring of trees.
- ‘The Letter’ – is a sweet love poem. It is told from the perceptive of a love letter.
- ‘A Route of Evanescence‘ – describes its subject through a series of metaphors, allusions, and images. But, never actually states that the subject is a hummingbird.