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Much Madness is divinest Sense - Summary & Analysis
by Emily Dickinson

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"Much Madness is divinest Sense" is a poem by the American poet Emily Dickinson that issues a challenge to its readers, saying that much what is taken for "madness" is actually "Sense"—and that the reverse is true also. In order to see the way that this works, people need to have a "discerning Eye"—that is, the ability to think clearly, fairly, and independently. The "Sense" of society—its norms, habits, and power structures—is held in place mostly because it's agreed to by the unthinking "Majority," whose views, the poem implies, should be challenged. The poem holds true with Dickinson's personal situation—it wasn't possible for her to gain the recognition her poems deserved during her lifetime, largely because she was a woman—but its ideas apply to any situation in which individuals challenge society's received ideas or behaviors. The poem was likely written around 1862, but like much of Dickinson's poetry it was not published until the 1890s, after she had died.

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