Dickinson is portraying a speaker who is insane. This is seen starting from the first line of the poem “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain”(1). The speaker could have said it felt like a funeral but instead states what he/she actually felt, not imagined. This is psychotic; people do not feel things in their brain. People feel migraines, which I think, could be what the speaker was referring to; it hurt so badly that he/she felt a funeral. Funerals indicate death and the speaker may have wanted to die from the pain of the migraine.
Going along with the interpretation that the speaker is crazy and that the speaker is experiencing a migraine of some sort, I look at lines 7-8. “Kept beating- beating – till I thought My mind was going numb-”. The Beating can be that pounding experience it feels like when someone is having a migraine and the terrible feeling of your mind going numb. That must hurt and someone experiencing numbness cannot feel or think normally.
When I read line 11 “With those same boots of Lead, again,” It makes me think of a crazy person who constantly hears voices talking to them inside their head. The word “again” exhibits that this is not the first time the speaker went crazy, this has happened before. Here we see the use of ambiguity, since its unclear, it could be the boots of lead is an example the speakers using to explain the pain he/she feels in his/her head from the migraines.
“Wrecked, solitary here-”(16) the speaker is lost in his/her own world. The speaker is “wrecked”- destroyed the speakers mind is completely crazy and does not even know where he/she is. Then the word “solitary” which means existing alone- crazy people are in their own world- unaware of their surroundings. The speaker says “here”- but where exactly is here? People in a dysfunctional state, when they feel wrecked and in solitude don’t know where they are.
The last stanza is where the speaker hits rock bottom. The last three lines say “And I dropped down, and down And hit a World, at every plunge, And finished knowing – then-”. Wow what just happened? Ok so dropped “down and down” sounds like the speaker is going into a dark hole of nothing forever. This last stanza sounds like the speaker is going into ultimate madness “at every plunge” you can feel the speaker going deeper and deeper. This is similar to a person who gets sick and then sicker and sicker till they die, they plunge deeper and deeper, this goes with the poem taking place at a funeral in the speakers brain. “And finished knowing – then-” this is it it’s over the speaker finished knowing and doesn’t know anything- he/she is crazy and has no reasoning anymore.
Based on the state I am accusing the speaker of being in, makes the speaker an unreliable narrator. The narrator is telling a story in first person about when he/she felt a funeral in his/her brain. Being that the speaker is mad it is unclear about what’s happening to him/her. So I read it a few times and tried to get the clues into what was going on.
1)Do you agree or disagree with me that the speaker is insane? what makes you think so.
2) Why do you think Dickinson choose a funeral as a location to display this speaker’s madness?