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“I Felt A Funeral, In My Brain”: An Individual’S Abandonment Of Faith

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“I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” by Emily Dickinson is an exceptionally formal and poetic illustration of the experience of an individual’s mind confronting its own breakdown of previously held beliefs. Dickinson applies the general metaphor of the common ceremonial funeral throughout the work to communicate to the reader the sense of spiritual breakdown of the speaker. This metaphor is an ironic one, as the speaker’s disintegration of faith can solely be expressed through a description of a traditionally religious ritual. Incredibly insightful of the workings of the human mind and soul, Dickinson is able to depict, using imagery and concrete metaphors, the almost incommunicable feelings of an individual undergoing the stages of a devastating collapse of religious faith in “I felt a funeral, in my Brain”.

The first stanza introduces a physical and literal burial of a supposed loved one at a funeral to be easily compared to giving up or losing one’s faith forever. “Brain”, in the first line, refers to the actual body part as well as the conceptual mind of the speaker (Dickinson 1). The” Mourners” in the following lines are interpreted as unpleasant events or feelings ceaselessly running through the speaker’s head that are the cause of the spiritual collapse (2-3). After the continual “treadingвЂ"treading” of the unpleasant thoughts in the speaker’s mind, he or she begins to realize the propinquity of his or her imminent spiritual ruin in lines three and four, “…it seemed/That Sense was breaking through-“ (3-4).

The second stanza further describes the funeral and employs sound imagery to delineate the speaker’s ever increasing fears and doubts about his or her religious stability. The ephemeral calm and silence of the mourners as they sit is a brief reprieve for the speaker before the “Service, like a DrumвЂ"“begins to further batter the speaker’s tortured mind until it feels “numb”(6- 8). The speaker is paralyzed because of fear and uncertainty; however, the speaker’s senses are still intact and utilized in the further description of the funeral process.

In stanza three, Dickinson further employs the use of sound imagery. Those carrying the “Box” (coffin) containing the speaker’s former self, “[creak] across” his or her “Soul” with “boots of Lead”, metaphorically trampling over the religious values that the speaker once embraced so faithfully (9-11). In the last line of stanza three, “ThenвЂ"Space began to toll”, the speaker comes to realize that the recent collapse of belief system is both indisputable and inevitable (12). This horrible realization fills the speaker’s soul like a tolling funeral bell.

Stanza four marks the point of no return for the speaker, now so overcome with the comprehension of immediate spiritual demise that he or she can hear, or sense, nothing else, as if “…all the Heavens were a Bell” (13-14). The speaker then finds his or herself “Wrecked and solitary” at the conclusion of the spiritual struggle. The speaker is emotionally drained and completely cut off from the rest of society, as if he or she were sealed in a coffin (15-16).

The final stanza begins with the breaking of a “Plank in Reason”. In a traditional funeral, the coffin is supported by planks to gradually lower it to its final resting place in the ground. However, the figurative “Plank”, the last attachment to the speaker’s old self, snaps, destroying the speaker’s former faith (17). Instead of gradual change, the speaker is plunged into uncertainty and skepticism forever, dropping “down, and down” (18-19). The final line presents an individual who is “Finished knowing” the religion in which he or she had invested so much (20).

As a religious agnostic, Emily Dickinson was a rarity among the people of her time. However, this, among her other idiosyncrasies, allowed her to create some of the greatest works in literary history. “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain”, a prime example of Dickinson’s revolutionary poetry, not only accurately represents general human emotions during a mental or spiritual breakdown, but it provides unrivaled insight into Dickinson’s own unique feelings regarding religion. The end of the final line of the poem allows the reader to decide for themselves whether the speaker’s risk of abandoning society and its blindly followed religion is worth the frightening and solitary journey.

“I felt a Funeral, in my Brain”: an Individual’s Abandonment of Faith

“I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” is an exceptionally formal and poetic illustration of the experience of an individual’s mind confronting its own breakdown of previously held beliefs. Dickinson applies the general metaphor of the common ceremonial funeral throughout the work to communicate to the reader the sense of spiritual breakdown of the speaker. This metaphor is an ironic one, as the speaker’s disintegration of faith can solely be expressed through a description of a traditionally religious ritual. Incredibly insightful of the workings of the human mind and soul, Dickinson is able to depict, using imagery and concrete metaphors, the almost incommunicable feelings of an individual undergoing the stages of a devastating collapse of religious faith in “I felt a funeral, in my Brain”.

The first stanza introduces a physical and literal burial of a supposed loved one at a funeral to be easily compared to giving up or losing one’s faith forever. “Brain”, in the first line, refers to the actual body part as well as the conceptual mind of the speaker (Dickinson 1). The”

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