Emily Dickinson’s, ” I’m a wife- I’ve finished that” poem is about women’s roles in society at the time, and how they rarely achieved the upper status and opportunities that they truly desired to, because of the Earth’s ( she’s speaking of society) view on them.
This can be observed by the image in the first stanza.
I’m “wife” – I’ve finished that –
That other state –
I’m Czar – I’m “Woman” now –
It’s safer so –
Here, when Dickinson says ” I’ve finished that” , it as stating that it was certainly already finished to be a ” wife”. Therefore, it is in a way expected and achievement. She is also mocking the word “wife” with the use of her quotations. Then she speaks of another ” state”, which is an extreme, a ” Czar”. Now she is a ” woman”. To me, I believe she was saying that a ” wife” is not the same as a ” woman”, as in saying that women are not women under men’s control, and ironically are more safe away from society’s common role for women.
The second and third stanzas:
How odd the Girl’s life looks
Behind this soft Eclipse –
I think that Earth feels so
To folks in Heaven – now –
This being comfort – then
That other kind – was pain –
But why compare?
I’m “Wife”! Stop there!
When she says that a girl’s life is odd behind the ” soft” eclipse, she is speaking of how bizarre life openly is for girls, since eclipses are bright and a monumental occasion. She also calls it ” soft” to refer back to the ” wife”. She regards the Heavens above, emphasizing NOW, as in the issue on women is a current one, and THEN, to show a connection in time. She speaks of these in heaven having pain remembering when they listened and stopped! as and settled as wives.
Therefore, this poem is ironically comparing ” wives” from ” czars-women”, and describe that even people in Heaven can look back and recall the pain they had in falling society’s demands of their assumed nature.