abstract illustration of a coffin, forest, and clouds with the ouline of a human face superimposed on everything

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain

by Emily Dickinson

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Topics for Further Study

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Research modern psychological explanations of what happens to the human mind when it is faced with clinical depression or some other mental illness. Explain how Dickinson’s poem depicts these mental events in poetic terms.

Explain how Dickinson’s depiction of the human mind may have been influenced by the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Research the ways in which groundbreaking scientific ideas were first received, such as those put forth by Galileo (whose 1632 work Dialogue on the Great World Systems posited the sun as the center of the solar system) or Charles Darwin (whose 1859 work On the Origin of Species proposed the idea of natural selection). Explain how Dickinson’s poem dramatizes some of the early reactions to these radical ideas.

Read Emerson’s essay “The Poet” and then explain how Dickinson’s work adheres to the ideals put forth within it.

Research the ways that a woman’s role was defined in nineteenth-century New England. Explain how Dickinson’s life suited (or revolted against) the roles assigned to her by her era.to her by her era.

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