Analysis of Dickinson’s I heard a Fly buzz - when I died

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Analysis of Dickinson’s I heard a Fly buzz - when I died Emily Dickinson wrote hundreds of poems during her lifetime that dealt with death. She seemed to have an almost morbid fascination with the subject. Her poem "I heard a Fly buzz - when I died" is one of the many poems she wrote about this ghastly topic. The symbols she used make this poem interesting because they can be interpreted on more than one level. The punctuation and capitalization used also give the poem an abstract quality. Like much of Dickinson's poetry, this poem is both startling and somber. One thing that stands out about this poem is that the word fly is capitalized throughout. It makes one wonder what the fly actually represents. Flies often gather around death and dead things, and on one level, the fly can be seen as a representation of death. Death, the perpetual fly on the wall, is finally making itself noticed. Although the speaker has always known that death is going to come, when it finally arrives, its modest appearance is disappointing. The fly can also be seen as an interruption in the narrator's process of dying. The fly can be heard buzzing above the "Stillness in the Room." The fly also comes between the speaker and the light in the last stanza of the poem, which is another disturbance in the speaker's dying process. The fly can also be seen in an ironic light. The speaker, like all of us, is expecting death to be an important, grandiose experience in our lives. Her own death, however, is interrupted by something as insignificant as a fly. The insignificant quality of the fly could represent the commonplace nature of death and the relative irrelevance of the death of one person. The fly is unimportant, an... ... middle of paper ... ...e describing a sort of spiritual death, since she talks about the fly cutting her off form the light, which could represent God. This interpretation has some difficulties, however, since family members probably would not be present during a spiritual death. (Dickinson 1146) Dickinson's poetry is both thought provoking and shocking. This poem communicates many things about Dickinson, such as her cynical outlook on God, and her obsession with death. It is puzzling to me why a young lady such as Emily Dickinson would be so melancholy, since she seemed to have such a good life. Perhaps she just revealed in her poetry that dark side that most people try to keep hidden. Works Cited: Dickinson, Emily. "I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died." The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Vol. 1, 2nd Edition. Ed. Nina Baym, et al. New York: W.W. Norton, 1985
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