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

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…

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…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

The Creature as Child in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

The Creature as a Child in Frankenstein

Imagine an eight-foot-tall, misshapen human child. You might complain that this is contradictory – but do it anyway. Imagine some sort of humanoid being with the mind of a human child in an eight-foot body, green with a nail in its head if you want. This is what Frankenstein’s creature is. Frankenstein’s creature is mentally a child, and we see its evolution through traditional child development in the course of its narrative. But the creature is the only member of its species, and therefore its narrative can be taken to represent the history of an entire species – the creature’s first experiences can be viewed as an amalgam of creation myths.

If we choose to view the creature as an individual, and consider its growth from child to adult in that manner, the obvious choice is to look at the creature’s relationship with knowledge. The creature seems to crave knowledge, as is evident from its explorations at the beginning of its narrative. This craving for knowledge is what makes it human; this is especially characteristic of children, who know very little and have a large vacuum to fill. Like any human being, the creature gains its knowledge by its senses – thus, it figures out how to use its sense before doing anything else. At the beginning of its narrative, we see the creature’s utter naïveté about the world, as it looks at the moon: “I started up and beheld a radiant form rise from among the trees” (Shelley 99). Significant here is the creature’s lack of initial comprehension of the world, just like any human child.

Continuing with the thread of human development, we see the creature’s acquisition of language. The creature most craves this sort of knowledge:…

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These parallels between the creature and a developing child help to explain many of the mysteries of the book. As we see, the creature goes on a terrible killing spree. There are two reasons for this. First, the creature desires revenge for its isolation. But it seems that the creature is also not aware of its own strength – it is easy for the creature to accidentally commit a murder. What two-year-old would not dream of this power? The creature’s identification with mythological figures has some fantastic aspects – children fantasize incessantly. This makes sense. The creature, being new to the living world, is chronologically a child – physically strange as it might be, we can only expect it to act its age.

Works Cited

Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths. Vol. 1. Baltimore: Penguin, 1955.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. 1818. New York: Signet, 1994.

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