Thursday, September 9, 2010

Good Ole' Emily Dickinson

To kick off my first blog of the week, I thought I'd start with analyzing Emily Dickinson's writing techniques in the poem "I felt a Funeral, in my Brain". What struck me about this literary work was the fact that it is entirely composed as an extended metaphor. Although I was initially taking the poem more literally, after the class discussions this week I have come to a different, and overall better understanding of the work. The extended metaphor could be interpreted in a few contrastive ways, but I have chosen which I agree with the most. On one hand, the poem may be hinting at a migraine or a more physical pain. The reference of the service being "like a Drum" which "kept beating-beating till I thought my My Mind was going numb" (lines 7-8) could be referring to the pounding sensation of a migraine headache. Later, when Emily says "Then Space-began to toll, as all the Heavens were a Bell" (lines 9-10) I could see this also being a reference to the pain of hearing loud sounds while enduring a migraine.
The interpretation that I personally feel best fits this poem is the idea that it is about a person having a mental breakdown or going insane. I think that many details support this idea, starting with the fact that the speaker is inside the box (or more appropriately, a casket) throughout the duration of the poem. When people are mentally ill, it is almost as if they have died because they are not truly themselves anymore. In this way, I linked it to the fact that the speaker is talking through a vantage point of already having died. Also, at the end I interpreted Dickinson's abrupt ending as the person's realization of their illness. I think that they became aware of the fact that they were growing insane and then died afterwards from their affliction. Her last lines, "And then a Plank in Reason, broke, and I dropped down, and down... And Finished knowing" show that the speaker died knowing they had grown insane.

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