A Deconstructive Reading of Dickinson’s Poetic Texts

Aziz Yousif Al-Muttalibi


Deconstruction, as a critical theory, maintains that language is a system of signs and, more precisely, a system of oppositions, differences and contradictions. Accordingly, the theory is operative in the sense that meanings are ultimately, unstable, and that a text, any text, contradicts, dismantles and even destroys itself. Hence, literary texts do not work as they appear to be working. They, in fact, ‘subvert’ and/or ‘betray’ themselves. Literary men cannot, therefore, control their works because any work, according to Derrida, the exponent of this theory, tries to defer or suppress its meaning which is ultimately shown as being unstable. Poetry is a unique act and Dickinson’s poetry reveals its gaps, inherent oppositions, and subversions. It is in the light of the theory of deconstruction that this paper tries to show that Dickinson’s poems ‘I’m wife’, ‘This is my Letter to the World’ and ‘Hope is the Thing with Feathers’ unmask their contradictions and enact the instability and indeterminacy of their meanings. Eventually, the newly established meanings of these pieces can hardly be sure of themselves and/or of being decidable.


Dickinson, Derrida, Deconstruction, Signs, Binary Opposition, Indeterminacy, Subversion

Full Text:



Brathes, Roland. S/Z. Seuil, 1970.

Brooks, Cleanth. The Well-Wrought Urn. Harcourt and Brace, 1974.

Casche’, Rendolphe. “Infrastructure and Systematicity”, Deconstruction and Philosophy, edited by John Sallis, University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Critchley, Simon. The Ethies of Deconstruction: Derrida and Levinas, Edinburgh University Press, 2014.

Culler, Jonathan. Structuralist Poeties: Structuralism, Linguistics and The Study of Literature. Cornell University, 1975.

Curie, Mark. The Invention of Deconstruction. Pulgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Derrida, Jacques. Afterword. Northwestern University Press, 1988.

………………… Of Grammatology. John Hopkins University Press, 1997.

Diyani, Robert. Poetry: An Introduction. McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2000.

Genette, Ge’rard. Figures II. Seuil, 1969.

Graves, Robert. The Common Asphodel, 1949.

Miller, J. Hillis. “The Critic as Host”, Deconstruction and Criticism, The Continuum Publishing Company, 1993.

Selden, Raman. Practising Theory and Reading Literature: An Introduction. Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1989.

Safier, Fannie. Ed., Adventure in American Literature. Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1996.

Sollers, Philippe. Logiques. Seuil, 1968.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.9n.6p.144


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the 'aiac.org.au' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.