The Allegory of the Funeral

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Saurav Sharma

English 11

Mrs. Hotchkiss

11/4/12

The Allegory of the Funeral

Funerals: the encapsulation of morbidity, alongside the certainty that something has been lost. Funerals are done so systematically, that one begins to feel more and more despondent as they continue. Emily Dickinson in her poem “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain”, uses this systematic organization of a funeral to provide a familiar situation that readers can understand, and that also emphasizes the loss of her mind. According to Emily Dickinson, societies' banal actions, acted as the prominent catalysts in her loss of coherency; this is portrayed in “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain” where her use of rhythm and repetition are used to share this with her reader's.

Her poem generally follows a consistent pattern, mostly written in iambs, where the unstressed syllable follows a stressed syllable. This was most probably used by Dickinson to depict a pulsating headache, that continues to throb and throb, similar to how a funeral procession seemingly becomes more unbearable as it continues. In lines 3-4 of the poem she says that the mourners continue to tread and tread throughout the funeral procession until eventually “sense begins to break through”. She may have used the specific word tread, to symbolize a march, in this case, a funeral march. Dickinson used the line “sense was breaking through” to symbolize a fleeting sense of understanding, that was never articulated, and eventually lost. Stanza two in it's entirety shows the reader how Dickinson minds is addled even further; “And when they all were seated, A Service, like a Drum -Kept beating - beating - till I thought My mind was going numb -”. Her “headache” so to speak began hurting more profusely, leading her to be inconvenienced by a feeling of numbness, which left her unable to think.

In line three of the first stanza, Dickinson use of repetition: “kept treading treading”, creates alliteration with the t sound. This t...
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