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Hope is the thing with feathers is the third episode of the third season of Apple TV+'s Dickinson. It is the twenty-first episode of the series overall, and aired on the same day as It feels a shame to be Alive - and The Soul has Bandaged moments in a three episode premiere respectively.


Amid the Civil War's mounting casualties, the Dickinsons grieve one of their own—and Emily struggles to keep the peace in her family.[1]


Emily on the front lines where the battlefield transitions into her bedroom but her gun becomes a pen. The priest is shocked to learn that they are not burying a soldier with him saying that, “I have no more time for the funeral of some old women…I am running way behind schedule” and finishes the service at double speed.

The Dickinson family is horrified by her aunt Lavinia Norcross, but Emily is too distracted by a bird to be offended. She catches a ride with her friend Death, who’s not doing so hot himself. He tells the poet that, war is “taking all the fun out of death”. Apparently all the death now is boring and repetitive and as a result, he asks her advice. He admires Emily for her passionate writing despite her “uneventful life,” and she expresses her newfound desire to spread hope. The war elevates her purpose, creating a reason for her poetry.

But her attempts to cheer up those around her are less than successful. She tries to console Betty, promising that her husband Henry is alive and well, to which Betty responds, “I thought poets were supposed to avoid clichés.”

Sue, now heavily pregnant fantasizes about raising her child with Emily. Emily snubs her nose at this suggestion though. She declares her poems are her children, displaying a childish fear of abandonment that no amount of waxing over “hope” seems to free her of.

Later a drunk Austin continues lusting after Jane Humphrey, and talking back to his father. Edward worries that his son is becoming more and more like his own father.

As the family gathers, Edward mourns the country that he finds himself in, unable to recognize it as the one he once idolized. He compares the Civil War to a family breaking up, and is thankful that his is together. He’s followed by Emily, who exclaims her love for her family. She mentions that “all I want to do is find a way to keep hope alive for you,” she says, and the Dickinson clan is grateful for her.

All but Austin, who embarks on a drunken rant about the family being a “joke” and resigned to misery. Stabbing back at his father, he accuses him of keeping him and his sisters “in cages”.

Edward’s heart gives out, and he collapses on the floor; barely breathing. Most of the family remains seated in horror. Only Emily actually attempts to help him. She is the only one who has hope.





  • Max Chernin as Samuel Strong
  • Teddy Bergman as Daniel Bliss
  • Roland Sands as Old Man
  • David Manis as Minister





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  • The episode's title and themes are based on ""Hope" is the thing with feathers" poem #254 by Emily Dickinson.[2]
  • Lavinia learns in this episode that Joseph Lyman, her crush from the Season 1, is dead, along with her ex-fiancé Henry Shipley from Season 2.

See also[]