Theme of Death in Emily Dickinson Poetry

Topics: Life, Death, Simile Pages: 4 (1149 words) Published: July 25, 2013
Emily Dickinson’s poetry is based on her deepest thoughts and life experiences. During her life she endured many tragic deaths of people close to her. This influenced her writing as means of expression and became a recurrent idea in her poetry. Because in her poems she interprets death differently, it can be inferred that she views death as ambivalent and equivocal. Dickinson uses different poetic devices to emphasize the unpredictable character of death. In “I heard the Fly buzz – when I died—” death represents grief and the end of life, but in “Because I could not stop for death” death is a nice kind gentleman leading the narrator to the eternity. She implies that death is always unpredictable and beyond human interpretation. Dickinson points out that death is always impossible to predict. In some cases death indeed means the end (“I heard the Fly buzz – when I died—”), but it also can mean the beginning: the beginning of eternity (“Because I could not stop for death”). Death does not know any rules and is far beyond human interpretation. In “I heard the Fly buzz – when I died—” Dickinson imagines her own deathbed scene where she is waiting for the King (God) to be witnessed in the room (to take her soul), and the eyes (close people) around her deathbed are wrung dry of tears. The expectation of God to come is shattered by the annoying sound of a fly buzzing. Death comes in the shape of the fly to ruin the perfect scene Dickenson has planned. As always, Death is unpredictable and unable to be scheduled or planned by a mortal.

Dickinson’s description of the setting is limited. She only stresses “In the room,” but her excessive use of similes and metaphors helps the readers to conjure up the picture of the deathbed scene: “The stillness in the Room

Was like the Stillness in the Air—
Between the Heaves of Storm—”
The room quiets as the narrator and the mourners are waiting for the last breath of life to leave. Dickinson uses a simile to compare the air...
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