Mortality In Emily Dickinson's I Heard A Fly Buzz

Good Essays
Many poets have been haunted by the idea of death, but few as much as Emily Dickinson. Even a small sampling of Emily Dickinson 's poetry is enough to reveal that death is her main subject of focus. In fact, it could be argued that death finds it’s way into each and every poem Dickinson writes, as it is so prevalent of a theme throughout her writing, the main difference would be of how obvious this theme is to the reader of each poem. Emily Dickinson 's interest in death is often criticized as being morbid, but modern day readers are mostly impressed by the way Dickinson handles the delicate subject that is mortality. The two finest examples of poems that are truly inspired by death and the subject of mortality are “I heard a Fly buzz - when …show more content…
“I heard a Fly buzz” is a poem specifically about mortality and death, and is the sole reason for it’s existence. Dickinson uses the poem to explore death in a new and bold way. There are allusions to how it may feel and what happens when one dies, or what is expectant of death, looking at death from different aspects, before, during, and after death. Dickinson puts the theme of mortality and death center stage in her opening line, “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –” (1) it is very nearly the first thing that the speaker talks about and is spoken about in the past tense. This is an unusual turn of events, as death is normally spoken about as something that is distant and toward the future,but this poem’s narrator is dead, and puts her perspective in a much different place than the reader’s. The line’s punctuation, like many …show more content…
Mortality is the major theme in this poem and is mainly focused on the narrator’s attitude toward her own death and what her death was actually like. This theme of mortality can be seen in the first line alone “Because I could not stop for Death –” (1) Death is introduced at the very beginning of the poem, where the reader is thrust into the story told by the narrator of her own passing. The reader is also reminded that our own death is far beyond our own control and not something that we choose. The speaker is seemingly unafraid of her own death, and even embraces and accepts it. Similarly to “I heard a Fly buzz,” even the punctuation added to the end of this line speaks to the theme of mortality, the dash being finite and jarring, but also uncertain, as it does not create the feeling of being completely finished. The line, “We slowly drove – He knew no haste” (5) adds even more credence to the idea of mortality, as it shows how little control the narrator had over her own death, and that Death had complete control. Conversely, just as much as the poem is about mortality, it also touches upon the theme of immortality. “The Carriage held but just Ourselves – / And Immortality.” (3-4) Dickinson unabashedly explores the idea of life after life as the reader comes to realize that the memory of the narrator’s death day is being

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    This ties into what the meaning of Death is in this poem, because the terms that Emily Dickinson use to substitute the places that the main character goes through while she is in a state of death are imagined as a fascinating, memorable experience. However, the main character becomes a bit dumbfounded by her surroundings and begins to question about why her entire experience of being with Death is a good thing, and not a bad thing. While she contemplates, her journey still remains a mystery. In the sixth stanza, Death’s underlying meaning becomes a beneficial influence when it is known as something that lasts forever. In these final lines, Dickinson has attempted to describe what is unknown about the meaning of Death.…

    • 1955 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Death is peaceful, death is calm, death is not hurried. A majority of people perceive death as a painful experience that causes grief and misery, but is it possible that these accusations could be wrong? Emily Dickinson, the author of “Because I Could Not Stop for Death”, challenges the average thought behind the presence of death which is shown through her poem. Dickinson’s mysterious writing method, often called upon as perplexing, is formed through her secluded lifestyle, fascination with death, and her drive to find a new outlook that is not popular in the eyes of society. From an overview, Dickinson had a fairly normal life living in New England with her family.…

    • 1059 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    For some people, death can be looked upon as a symbol of freedom from the trials and tribulations of earth, meanwhile it can also be looked at as an unfortunate event that has taken away someone too early. In Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death”, she manages to highlight how death could be looked at with personification as well as how it possesses good-natured aspects. In this poem, Dickinson refers to death primarily as “he”, accentuating that death is a person. Death can be courteous when we think about it as a freeing trait. If someone were to see their last days as just letting go from long suffering due to an illness or if they are ready for it; then one could see how respectful death could really be.…

    • 1010 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Death Theme In Poetry

    • 1142 Words
    • 5 Pages

    First is Emily Dickinson’s “Because I could not stop for death”. The poem is about Emily’s journey through life and all of her experiences. She refers to the driver of the carriage as death. She says that he stopped kindly for her. This comes with surprise, too, since death is more often considered grim and terrible (Glenn 1).…

    • 1142 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The themes show how life begins and ends in the same place figuratively and sometimes quite literally. Emily uses symbols in her works to help the reader understand changes in life caused by death and mortality. These symbols also help the reader understand the experience of death and what may happen as someone is dying. In her poems, Emily Dickinson also uses the roles given by society to explain how death can create sadness and change everything about someone 's life, thoughts, and feelings towards a single subject or towards all aspects of life. In her poems, “I Heard a Fly Buzz- When I Died-,” “Because I Could Not Stop For Death,” and “The Bustle in A House,” Emily Dickinson uses theme, symbolism, and societal roles to view death in new ways and to make the reader think about mortality.…

    • 1466 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Emily Dickinson Outline

    • 879 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Topic Sentence 1: Dickinson uses slant rhyme to emphasize her points and to induce the readers to pay close attention to the words themselves rather than the sounds of the words. 1. In her poem, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death”, she gives an example of a slant rhyme when she writes, “He kindly stopped for me- / The Carriage held but just Ourselves- / And Immortality” (2-3). • It emphasizes that Death is a person and that there is someone else in the carriage with them. When Dickinson wrote “He kindly stopped for me”, she was referring to Death as a kind person.…

    • 879 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Due to this fact the focus of the poem is put on the journey the speaker takes after death and her expectations she has after death of what the afterlife will be. In “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died” the speaker dies at the end of the poem, and the focus is more on the speaker preparing for death. “I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away / What portions of me be / Assignable” (9-11). This shows that the speaker is prepared for death. However, the preparedness of the the speaker’s are not the only aspect of the shock they receive after…

    • 1238 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    In the first quatrain Dickinson starts with "I heard a Fly buzz- when I died- (line 1)." With the use of dashes as pauses it makes it more dramatic that the fly was around as she was dying. The first line lets the reader know there is more to this poem than a fly. Then, she moves away from the fly, and she starts to tell us more about the scene of her death. In lines two through four she is descibing the atmosphere of the…

    • 771 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Dickinson ultimately wants her readers to question whether beauty and truth are worth dying for. Dickinson uses the themes of beauty and truth to convey that material accomplishments during life have insignificant influences on future societies and on death. To open the poem, we are painted a scene of two speakers having a conversation. One is placed in a tomb claiming to die for beauty, while another is claiming to have died for truth. Both deaths were described in a parallel fashion.…

    • 1614 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Readers are placed into a different perspective as Woolf wraps the essay up letting the readers know that the struggles the moth faced against the ugly fate of death was just a metaphor for human life. In the end, it is assumed that death will always win. One can simply not change their fate even as they try to fight against it. She concludes her essay stating “just as life had been strange a few minutes before, so death was now strange”. What started off as a stranger became all knowing to the moth and the moth seemed to cry “o yes, [...] death is stronger than I am”.…

    • 849 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays