THEME: DEATH • The poem movingly depicts the process of dying. The poem’s final stanza portrays a mind disintegrating as life leaves it. • There is something powerful about the repetition of the words “And then” in this stanza as the speaker lists the stages of her mental collapse. • The poem emphasises the indignity of the speaker’s death. The speaker has prepared for death, has made her will and gathered her family around her to say goodbye. The last thing she hears, however, is not the soothing words of her family but the buzzing of a fly.
THEME: DEATH • The last thing she sees is not the faces of her loved ones but a fly floating in front of her. • The speaker’s last experience in this world is of a miserable and insignificant insect, “stumbling” as it buzzes around the room. • Many feel that this makes a mockery out of the moment of her death, robbing her of grace and dignity.
THE FLY AS PERSONIFICATION OF DEATH • The fly can be seen as a symbol or personification of death. Flies are often associated with disease, death and decay. • Just as death is often personified as a black- cloaked figure, here Dickinson personifies death as a fly blocking out the light of this world. • The idea of death as a fly waiting to claim each of us at the end of our lives is unpleasant and disturbing.
THEME: RELIGION • This poem presents a rather mocking view of religion. • The speaker and her loved ones wait anxiously for “the King” to be “witnessed” in the room.
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