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At the deathbed, the persona is willingly distributing earthly possessions to heirs, only for a buzzing fly to unexpectedly interrupt the will-assignment process. In this context, the fly is a symbol used to reinforce the idea of earthly distractions while trying to achieve spiritual composure just before death (Bennett 82). Admittedly, Emily Dickinson intended to demonstrate the element of skepticism or lack of absolute certainty common during inevitable but tragic situations in human life. Technically, the poet employed the literary device of symbolism in delineating mental and spiritual conflicts experienced by humans before dying.
In the first line of the poem, the persona says, “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died.” In essence, the persona is already dead. However, the persona is reminiscent of the moments just before death struck. In this case, the buzzing fly is a symbol; a symbol of earthly distractions and a symbol of how man relates with distractions in the natural world. After the poem’s first line, the symbolic effect of the buzzing fly fades, until when the fly abruptly interrupts the persona while distributing earthly possessions to those present at the deathbed. In lines ten, eleven and twelve of the poem, the persona says, “I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away what portion of me be assignable – and then it was there interposed a Fly” (Frederic and Mason 591). In this case, the buzzing fly re-enters the room and invariably distract the dying persona from his will-assignment duties. Before the buzzing fly entered the room for the second time, the persona had achieved a state of calm and resolved spiritual composure. The achieved spiritual calmness at the dying moments is illustrated by lines two, three and four of the poem which says, “The stillness in the room was like the stillness in the air between the heaves of storm” (Frederic and Mason 591). In this case, the dying persona was experiencing
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