Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Emily Dickinson was indeed used to grief, as the record of her life clearly indicates. She was disappointed in love and and disappointed in her efforts to achieve literary fame. Yet there was moments of happiness and even ecstasy in Emily Dickinson's life. The purpose of this thesis is to examine those moments of ecstatic elevation--the "Soul's Superior instants" as Emily called them--in order to achieve a better insight into the mind of the poet and the nature of often curious verse.

An examination of ecstasy requires a study of Emily's religious background her psychological make-up. It also behooves the student to analyze anguish, the emotion antipodal to ecstasy, which in Emily's mind was curiously related to ecstasy. As she said: "For each ecstatic instant/ We must an anguish pay." And again more cryptically: "Water, is taught by thirst."