In the poem ” I am wife” Emily Dickinson talks about the struggles of being a woman in the 1800s.
Through the poem, she talks about the transition from a single woman to a wife and how different it feels, along with the confusing yet reassuring feelings a woman would be going through before she was married. She also refers to the difference in social standings between a man and woman. In the first two stanzas of the poem the narrator says “I’m “wife” — I’ve finished that, That other state —”. (ll,1-2) In saying this she is telling us that she is now married and refers to her single life as being “that other state”.
She also has the word wife in quotation marks, possibly showing that it is now her title. She also mentions how odd it feels to look back at her life as a single woman. “How odd the Girl’s life looks. Behind this soft Eclipse”. (ll,5-6) She refers to her marriage as a soft eclipse, something that is new and beautiful, and something that doesn’t happen all too often. In saying this she could be showing that she does truly love the man she has married and that even though she was afraid of her new status she finds it a wonderful thing. Like an eclipse, true love is hard to find, but when you do find it, it is beautiful.
In the last few lines of the stanza the speaker says “This being comfort — then That other kind — was pain —” (ll-9,10) In a way it sounds like she is asking a question, wondering if marriage is a comfort and being single is a pain. This could be a question that she asks as she tries to reassure herself that getting married is the right thing for her to do. She then continues to reassure herself by saying “But why compare? I’m “Wife”! Stop there!” (ll-11,12) She questions why she is comparing the single and married life because, now that she is married, she no longer needs to be afraid of what it will be like. Through the beginning of the poem, the narrator refers to the difference in social standings between a man and a woman.
” I’m Czar — I’m “Woman” now”. (l-3) Czar was a title that was held mostly for men. A woman that is on her own can become Czar, but once she has married that title can only be held by a man. It is almost like she is showing that once a woman is married, she loses all of the power that she held as a single woman to her husband. In the whole first half of the poem, it sounds as if she is afraid that once she is married she will lose all freedom and everything will revolve around her husband, which was a common thing around this time period. It also appears that she tries to reassure her loss of power by saying “It’s safer so”, meaning that she feels it is safer for her to marry and without power then to be single and with power.
In conclusion, “I am wife” written by Emily Dickinson shows a woman’s struggles in the 1800s by writing about the transition from a single woman to a wife and how different it feels, along with the confusing yet reassuring feelings a woman would be going through before she was married and the difference in social standings between a man and a woman.