The Reality of Death in Emily Dickinson's Poem, I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died

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I Heard a Fly Buzz – When I Died –, written by Emily Dickinson, is an interesting poem in which the poet deals with the subject of death in a doubtful yet both optimistic and pessimistic ways. The central theme of the poem is the doubtfulness and the reality of death. The poem is written in a very unique point of view; the narrator who is speaking is already dead. By using symbols, irony, oxymoron, imagery and punctuation, the poet greatly succeeds in showing the reality of death and her own doubtful feelings towards time after death.

The use of fly in the poem, I Heard a Fly Buzz – When I Died –, act as a symbol which represents the hope of the person on her deathbed. The quietness in the room is described as “the Stillness in the
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However, once more, “there interposed a Fly” (12), interrupting not only the silence but also the narrator’s mind which is trying to calm before the fear of death. This is because, the fly act as the last string the narrator can hold on to, or in other words, the last string that will connect the narrator and the world. With all her possessions assigned to others, the narrator does not own any physical possessions and she is also standing on the margin of losing her life. The sound of the fly buzzing and the sight of the fly flying around the room allow the narrator on the deathbed to know she is still alive and existing in the world as a human being. The fly, when seen from the positive or the optimistic point of view, can act as a symbol of hopefulness, for life existing in the same room with death can be interpreted as fly blocking and stopping the door of death from opening.

Although the fly can be interpreted as a symbol of hope, this is ironic because a fly is something very trivial and unnoticeable. A fly is commonly known as an irritating and annoying insect and is not welcomed by the people. However, in this poem, the fly is welcomed by the narrator, who is about to face death. Interestingly, each time the fly is mentioned in the poem, its first letter is always capitalized. This shows that the fly in the poem is not something trivial and unimportant but rather a significant individual being. Also, the constant mention of the fly, for example, “I heard a
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