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Themes

You'd think that in a poem about a funeral, the dead person would do the haunting. But in "I felt a Funeral, in my Brain," religion – specifically New England Protestantism – does the haunting. Not literally, of course. But the religious service in this poem is anything but a source of peace and comfort. Religion keeps invading on her space. Although church is supposed to bring a sense of community into one's life, the speaker of this poem feels isolated and abandoned.

Questions About Religion

  1. Does religion have a place in this poem, or does Dickinson just adapt religious symbols to suit her own purposes?
  2. What religious element is most important in this poem: doctrine or ritual?
  3. Does the poem take a stand on the question of the eternality of the soul?
  4. Is religion portrayed negatively in this poem? If so, how and where?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

"I felt a Funeral, in my Brain" is not about traditional religion. Dickinson treats the funeral as a secular ritual.

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