Much Madness is Divinest Sense

Much Madness is Divinest Sense

 by Emily Dickinson

Much Madness is Divinest  Sense –
To a discerning Eye –
Much Sense – the starkest Madness –
’Tis the Majority
In this, as all, prevail –
Assent – and you are sane –
Demur – you’re straightway dangerous –
And handled with a Chain –

Summary of Much Madness is Divinest Sense

  • Popularity of “Much Madness is Divinest Sense”: Emily Dickenson, one of the distinguished American poets wrote this poem. It’s a short poem and yet thought-provoking. The poem is about divine wisdom and madness towards religion. It was first published in 1890. The poem illustrates how society deals with spiritual people who do not follow their norms.
  • “Much Madness is Divinest Sense” Criticism on the Judgmental Society: The poem presents a stark comparison between madness and sanity. The poet used concise terms to explain how madness is related to a sense of divinity. According to the poet, every soul possesses madness. Society uses the word madness for those who do not join hands with it and prefer spirituality. She argues that some people determine their rules by themselves, but their actions are disliked by judgmental society. No doubt, most of the people religiously follow the rules set by society to bring peace in their lives. But those who do not accept those norms have to endure hardships. Moreover, they are considered dangerous to society.
  • Major Themes in “Much Madness is Divinest Sense”: Spirituality, sanity, and madness are the major themes of this poem. The poem presents two important things: the poet’s definition of madness and what society thinks madness is. It demonstrates the anger and battle against the limits imposed by the authoritarian society. The writer states how society forces people to join them and follow the norms blindly. She speaks about those who rebel against society and prefer isolating themselves from their rigidity. It is due to their indifferent behavior, they face hatred and severe criticism.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Much Madness is Divinest Sense”

Literary devices are tools used by writers and poets to convey their emotions, feelings, and ideas to the readers. Emily Dickinson has also used some literary devices in this poem to bring depth to her text. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. For example, “To a discerning Eye.” As if eyes are humans, and they can understand or discern what’s happening.
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between different objects. The poem is a metaphor for individual yet contradicting thoughts. The line ‘Demur – you’re straightway dangerous’ is a metaphor for threat.
  3. Paradox: A paradox is a statement that may seem contradictory but can be true. The title of the poem, “Much Madness is Divinest Sense” is a paradox because it contradicts itself. It explains that madness is sensible, and what seems to make sense is actually madness.
  4. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /a/ in “And handled with a Chain.”
  5. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /n/ in “Assent – and you are sane”.
  6. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings different from literal meanings. ‘Discerning Eye’ symbolizes the wise people of society.
  7. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /m/ in “Much Madness is Divinest ”
  8. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example,

“Much Madness is Divinest  Sense –
To a discerning Eye.”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Much Madness is Divinest Sense”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem. 

  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are only eight lines in this poem with no stanza break.
  2. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free-verse poem with no strict rhyme or material pattern.
  3. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “sane” and “chain.”
  4. Internal Rhyme: The internal rhyme is rhyme within a line. For example, “Much Madness is Divinest Sense” two words “madness” and “sense” rhyme with each other.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are suitable to use for the people who desire to keep themselves away from the madness of society.

Much Madness is Divinest  Sense –
To a discerning Eye –
Much Sense – the starkest Madness.”