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How do I analyze "The Bustle in a House" by Emily Dickinson?

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lezilh | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 22, 2013 at 8:19 AM via web

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How do I analyze "The Bustle in a House" by Emily Dickinson?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 22, 2013 at 4:15 PM (Answer #2)

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The poem is simple but sincere and profound, and makes the point that even after someone dies life must go on.

There is a melancholy tone to “The Bustle After Death,” with words like “Death,” “solemnest” and “eternity” reinforcing the sadness.  There is also a juxtaposition between ordinary and even friendly words like “Bustle” that seem to contradict the tone.  Dickinson is reminding us that death does not stop life for the rest of us.

Diction refers to word choice, and the choice of “Bustle” is certainly an interesting one.

The Bustle in a House

The Morning after Death

Is solemnest of industries

The word “bustle” is usually used to refer to activity, but it is a happy activity.  It is ironic to use the term to refer to a solemn activity like cleaning up after someone has died.  Also, note that Dickinson has capitalized the word, as well as the words "House," "Morning" and "Death."  This directs the reader to the contradiction and makes the reader stop and pause.

When a loved one dies, we sometimes have to pick up the pieces of our lives and move on. Dickenson captures that strange feeling in this poem.


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