LEARN A WORD A DAY

Saturday, July 25, 2009

There's been a death in the opposite house - Analysis

There's been a death in the opposite house
As lately as to-day.
I know it by the numb look
Such houses have alway.

The neighbors rustle in and out,
The doctor drives away.
A window opens like a pod,
Abrupt, mechanically;

Somebody flings a mattress out,--
The children hurry by;
They wonder if It died on that,--
I used to when a boy.

The minister goes stiffly in
As if the house were his,
And he owned all the mourners now,
And little boys besides;

And then the milliner, and the man
Of the appalling trade,
To take the measure of the house.
There'll be that dark parade

Of tassels and of coaches soon;
It's easy as a sign,--
The intuition of the news
In just a country town.

Analysis

This poem, like many others, reflects her obsession with death. However, this reflection is very indirect because it is made clear to us that the narrator is a boy when they toss the mattress out ("I used to-when a Boy"). This poem makes death a reality-it catches the mood that even an inanimate object like a house can have after a death has occurred. She uses words like 'numb' and 'mechanically' to catch the kind of hushed mood after a death. The entire poem describes the 'practical' things that people do after a death, but through the entire thing there is an ominous undercurrent.

It is also important to note that the body of the dead person is described as an 'it'( "Somebody flings a Mattress out-/The Children hurry by-/They wonder if it died-on that-"). This suggests that after death their is no humanity left, but just an empty shell. This also signifies the obssession that Emily Dickinson had about death. Other important lines are the ones mentioning the 'Dark Parade"(the funeral procession) and "the Man Of the Appalling Trade"(probably someone along the lines of a funeral director or the driver of the hearse).

Another Interpretation:

I think that all Emily is saying is that basically, people are conditioned to deal with death from a young age because death has visible signs even when the actual “death” itself isn’t apparent. Because of this, much of the emotional aspects of death are non-existant in the onlookers of the scene because they have been desensitized to the whole concept of death. The use of "it" in line 11 (they wonder if it died on that-) completely depersonalizes the persons death, and thus, the children who are wondering about "it" show no emotion towards the situation, but rather grimace at the thought of the dead body. Yet, the speaker states "i used to when a boy" showing that this non-sentimental attitude towards death is innate in children. In a nutshell, the theme is that the scene of death has visible signs even when a body is lacking, and beginning at a young age we pick up on the signs and thus become conditioned to deal with death.

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Collection of SPM English Language Question Papers

2005
Terengganu Trial [Paper 1]

2007
Johor Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Terengganu Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Pahang Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2] [Answers], Melaka Trial 2007 [Paper 1] [Paper 2], TIMES [Paper 1] [Paper 2] SPB [Paper 1] [Paper 2]

2008

Terengganu Mid Year [Paper 1] [Paper 2],
Trial
MRSM Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], SBP Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Kelantan Trial [Paper 1 & 2], Terengganu Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Kedah Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Pahang Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Johor Trial [Paper 1 & 2], Perlis Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Sabah Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Sarawak Trial [Paper 1 & 2], Melaka Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2]

2009

Terengganu TOV [Paper 1] [Paper 2] Terengganu Mid Year [Paper 1] [Paper 2]
Melaka Trial , Johor Trial , Sabah Trial , Kedah Trial , Perlis Trial , Times , SBP , Pahang Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2]

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