How Does Emily Dickinson Try to Describe a Psychological State in Her Poem "I Felt a Funeral in My Brain"

Topics: Mind, Psychology, Soul Pages: 8 (3360 words) Published: November 15, 2012
How does Emily Dickinson try to describe a psychological state in her poem “I felt a Funeral in my Brain?” Emily Dickson was born in 1830, in the town of Amherst, Massachusetts. She grew up in a prominent and prosperous household in which she was raised as a cultured Christian woman. The sixteenth centaury was a very historical period in America. During this time slavery had been abolished, women were campaigning for rights, gold was discovered and America was going through a depression. Transcendentalism was one of the most important movements of the time. The poem “I felt a Funeral in my Brain” appears to convey the experience of a mind facing its own collapse. “Funeral in my Brain” is a metaphor for the death of the mind. Throughout the poem Dickinson expresses the idea of a breakdown which is both psychological and physical. The opening stanza presents the metaphor of a funeral that is used throughout the poem to convey the sense of a breakdown. “Brain” refers to both the concrete physical organ and to the abstract idea of the speaker’s mind; such dual meanings are used throughout the poem to convey the physical and mental effects of the breakdown. The noun “Funeral” refers to the speakers psychological mind in which she feels like is slowly dying. The speaker is experiencing synaesthesia as well as feeling detached from her body and her thoughts, she is also having difficulty organising her thoughts. Both “Funeral” and “Brain” have capital letters which emphasise the importance of their impact and the theme throughout the poem. Both words are polar opposites as you wouldn’t relate your brain which is the most powerful and most important organ to that of a funeral which is related to death, sadness and sorrow. This therefore implies that the speaker is experiencing a depression of the mind. The fact that the speaker “felt” a funeral in her brain suggests that the funeral is psychological instead of a physical event. The speaker expresses her feelings instead of delineating them. A funeral is also a religious event which is held in a place of worship. This illustrates the importance of religion during the 16th century and the impact it had on the lives of people during that period. The second line of the stanza “And Mourners to and fro” is a metaphorical way of explaining her state of mind and expressing the pain in her mind it also suggests that the mourners could possibly be one of the reasons why the speaker is in a depression. “To and fro” means to move back and forth; the mourners may be stuck in her head as she is thinking about them, they are not leaving her mind, they continue to confuse her and disconnect her with her thoughts. Another interpretation could be that the mourners are trying to tell her something or try and make her aware. “Mourners” refers to a group of people, this suggests that society may be against her and her beliefs; they are not allowing her to have a thought process but are trying to confuse her.A “mourner” is a person or persons in this case who expresse grief and sorrow while attending a funeral; which is in the speaker’s brain. In addition this links to the funeral in her brain it implies that she may have a headache from the “mourners” confusing her or by staying in her mind, they may be depressing her even more. The speaker creates imagery by trying to express the funeral in her brain as a physical event instead of a psychological one. The speaker implies that she is actually attending a funeral, to her it seems real but to others it may suggest a sense of madness and loss of reality. In the third and fourth line of the first stanza Dickson uses a metaphor to describe and create imagery of the speakers mind. “Kept treading-treading- till it seemed that sense was breaking through” she uses a verb “treading” to emphasis the effect of the mourners. The verb “treading “implies that the mourners are walking on, over or along her. They are trying to trample or crush her both physically...
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