In the poem "I heard a fly buzz in my brain," is the fly real or metaphorical?
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The fly is neither real nor metaphorical. It is symbolic of death and decay. Ironically, rather than being taken up into glory by the king, the first thing she is aware of in death is the fly, which has come to dispose of her body.
Of course, the fly can't be real. Let's be realistic for a moment. If the speaker could hear a fly buzz when she died, how could she have written about it?
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I have a different viewpoint here. I do believe the fly could, in fact, be real. If one is on one's deathbed and drifting in and out of consciousness, or one is very, very close to death, one may perhaps be able to hear a fly buzz without being able to move or speak, etc. No one knows what one experiences when one dies, so this, in my opinion, leaves the possibility that the fly is real completely open.
I also see the fly as metaphorical in that when one dies, people "buzz" around him or her. When one dies, he or she is sent to a funeral home, where people prepare one for burial. Then, relatives and friends normally come to view the body. Lastly, a funeral is held for burial. All of this causes people to be around when one dies, so the fly could represent the people that hover and "buzz" around one's body when he or she dies.
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